When my 12-year-old daughter introduced me to The Hunger Games last year, I was immediately hooked. Suzanne Collins’s dystopian trilogy has been a huge bestseller for tweens, teens, and their parents; critics and fans alike are already predicting that the movies will be the next Twilight or Harry Potter. And unlike those two series, at its core is an unapologetically powerful female hero.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence of Winter’s Bone), like some futuristic Artemis the Huntress, is a moral and ethical teaching tool on swift, muscular legs. The consequences of the tough decisions she is constantly weighing are often dire. Katniss is drafted by her oppressive government to “entertain” her fellow citizens in a kill-or-be-killed Survivor-style spectacle … starring children. For 16-year-old Katniss, life isn’t a Disney teen chewy of peer pressure and meet-cute crushes. Since her widowed mother (Paula Malcomson) and her sister, Prim (Willow Shields), depend on her for their survival, she can’t afford a shred of narcissism. The movie does have some disturbing violence, it’s true, but it also yields a number of strong lessons for kids — and their parents. Such as …
Sisterhood Sometimes Requires Strength and Sacrifice
Many of Katniss’s finest actions are set into motion to protect her younger sister from pain and hardship. As anyone who has seen the trailer knows — much less avid readers — the Capitol selects fragile youngster Prim to join the other 23 youthful “Tributes” selected for the big televised battle. Katniss immediately volunteers, trading her life for that of her sister. The cost? Potentially death. At best, she’s going to have to kill a lot of strangers to survive.