Among the Hidden (Shadow Children Series #1)

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In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke, an illegal third child, has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm in this start to the Shadow Children series from Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Luke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.

Luke is one of the shadow...

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Among the Hidden (Shadow Children Series #1)

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In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke, an illegal third child, has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm in this start to the Shadow Children series from Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Luke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.

Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He's lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.

Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows -- does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?

In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong.

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Editorial Reviews

Christine Heppermann
Among the Hidden packages a thought-provoking premise in a rapid-fire adventure story. Readers can be carried along by the sheer adrenaline of it all.
— Riverbank Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This futuristic novel focuses on a totalitarian regime and the Internet. PW noted, "The plot development is sometimes implausible and the characterizations a bit brittle, but the unsettling, thought-provoking premise should suffice to keep readers hooked." Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
The ALAN Review - Betty Carter
Returning to the younger middle school audience she addressed in Running Out of Time, Haddix thrusts readers into a world of too many people, not enough food. The Population Police dictate two children per family. Luke is an illegal "third," forced to stay hidden in the shadows of his family farm. When rich government employees build a housing development on adjacent land, Luke's parents confine him to an attic room. Bored, he spends his days watching the neighborhood. He soon discovers an odd pattern in one house: the family leaves, but activity continues. Luke sneaks over and meets Jen, another "third." Luke, mirroring his disenfranchised family, fears the totalitarian government; Jen using all the resources of her privileged background, challenges it. Although the denouement is swift and tidy, the fully realized setting, honest characters, and fast paced plot combine for a suspenseful tale of two youngsters fighting for their very existence.
VOYA - Debbie Earl
Luke is the youngest of three brothers. When his parents married, they dreamed of having four children: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, to labor on the family farm. That was before the government enacted the Population Law, which allowed families only two children. Before the penalties became severe, Luke's mother found she was unexpectedly pregnant and decided to keep the baby. Now the family is trapped: the government has purchased the woodlands surrounding the farm and is cutting down trees to make room for houses. To keep from being seen, Luke is forced to hide in the attic where he becomes a pale, depressed recluse. Luke views the outside world through a small attic air vent, and one day detects another "shadow child" in a neighboring house. He breaks into the seemingly deserted home and meets Jen, who acts tough and fearless and introduces Luke to a chat room of hidden children on the Internet. When Luke and Jen discover a rally planned to protest the Population Law, Jen is determined to attend but Luke is afraid, and stays home. Luke breaks into Jen's house again and learns she was killed in the protest. Jen's father then offers Luke a fake ID, and this bleak allegorical tale ends with Luke leaving to attend school, then rejoin the outside world. This is an easily understood, younger reader's 1984 or Brave New World, presenting a chilling vision of a possibly not-too-distant future. Haddix's other books include Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey (Simon & Schuster, 1996/VOYA December 1996). VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
If anyone should catch sight of 12-year-old Luke Garner, he's as good as dead. Luke is a Shadow child, the third child of the family in a futuristic society where the Population Law states that families are allowed no more than two offspring. When the government decides to take the woodlands around Luke's house to make way for a housing development, Luke wonders if he will ever be allowed to go outside again. One day, Luke sees someone stirring at a neighbor's supposedly empty house. He risks being caught and befriends Jen, another shadow child. Together, the illegal children discuss their yearning to be free. Jen introduces Luke to other third children, and they converse over the Internet. Luke is not as zealous as his wealthy friend is; Jen's courage costs her her life. Luke forges his own courage, and ultimately sets out to change the world, a little at a time. A fine imaginative and instructive cautionary tale.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Born third at a time when having more than two children per family is illegal and subject to seizure and punishment by the Population Police, Luke has spent all of his 12 years in hiding. His parents disobeyed once by having him and are determined not to do anything unlawful again. At first the woods around his family's farm are thick enough to conceal him when he plays and works outdoors, but when the government develops some of that land for housing, his world narrows to just the attic. Gazing through an air vent at new homes, he spies a child's face at a window after the family of four has already left for the day. Is it possible that he is not the only hidden child? Answering this question brings Luke greater danger than he has ever faced before, but also greater possibilities for some kind of life outside of the attic. This is a near future of shortages and deprivation where widespread famines have led to a totalitarian government that controls all aspects of its citizens' lives. When the boy secretly ventures outside the attic and meets the girl in the neighboring house, he learns that expressing divergent opinions openly can lead to tragedy. To what extent is he willing to defy the government in order to have a life worth living? As in Haddix's Running Out of Time (S & S, 1995), the loss of free will is the fundamental theme of an exciting and compelling story of one young person defying authority and the odds to make a difference. Readers will be captivated by Luke's predicament and his reactions to it.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Kirkus Reviews
In a chilling and intelligent novel, Haddix (Leaving Fishers, 1997, etc.) envisions a near future where a totalitarian US limits families to only two children. Luke, 12, the third boy in his farming family, has been hidden since birth, mostly in the attic, safe for the time being from the Population Police, who eradicate such "shadow children." Although he is protected, Luke is unhappy in his radical isolation, rereading a few books for entertainment and eating in a stairwell so he won't be seen through the windows. When Luke spies a child's face in the window of a newly constructed home, he realizes that he's found a comrade. Risking discovery, Luke sneaks over to the house and meets Jen, a spirited girl devoted to bringing the shadow children's plight center-stage, through a march on the White House. Luke is afraid to join her and later learns from Jen's father, a mole within the Population Police, that Jen and her compatriots were shot and killed, and that their murder was covered up. Jen's father also gets a fake identity card and a new life for Luke, who finally believes himself capable of acting to change the world. Haddix offers much for discussion here, by presenting a world not too different from America right now. The seizing of farmlands, untenable food regulations, and other scenarios that have come to fruition in these pages will give readers a new appreciation for their own world after a visit to Luke's. (Fiction. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689824753
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2000
  • Series: Shadow Children Series, #1
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 26,771
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including The Missing series and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at
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Table of Contents

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About the Book

"A chilling and intelligent novel," is how Kirkus Reviews described Among the Hidden. "Haddix offers much for discussion here." In a society that allows only two children per family, Luke is a third child, a "shadow child." He's illegal, strictly forbidden. So he stays hidden, alone most of the time and frightened all of time. Then one day he discovers another shadow child, Jen, living in one of the fancy new houses that the government built behind his family's farm. Luke and Jan quickly become friends, but Jan is bold and daring and she wants more than companionship from Luke. She wants him to be a crusader, another third child willing to risk everything for freedom. "An exciting and compelling story," wrote School Library Journal. "Readers wiII be captivated by Luke's predicament and his reactions to it."

Discussion Topics

  • The author doesn't specify the setting for Among the Hidden. Where do you think it takes place? When do you think it takes place?
  • Luke's family is terrified of the government. Why? What are some of the tactics the government employs to make ordinary families like his feel powerless?
  • Explore Luke's relationships with his brothers and his parents. How close are they? How trusting? Does Luke have more in common with Jen than with his own family? Why or why not?
  • The Internet made it possible for Jen and, later, Luke to connect with other hidden third children. It helped them build a community of peers. Do you use the Internet to connect with people who share interests with you?
  • What do you like about friendships formed over the Internet? What do youdislike?
  • Why did Jen organize the march on the president's house? Do you think she knew she was going to die? Was she being noble? Was she being foolish? Luke decides not to follow her. What would you have done?
  • Jen is a third child, but her stepfather is a member of the Population Police, the brutal organization devoted to discovering people like her and bringing them to a harsh justice. Discuss his character. Is he a hero, a villain, or both? What do you think and why?

Activities and Research

  • What would happen to your family if third children and beyond were outlawed? Would you have been born? Would your parents or your grandparents? Make a family tree. How many relatives would have to be taken off if there were no third children?
  • Among the Hidden is fiction. But the most populous country in the world, China, actually does have laws that strictly limit family size. Find out more about China's effort to reduce its population. How are the laws enforced? How sucessful have they been? Are these laws popular or unpopular among the people?
  • The government in Among the Hidden is totalitarian. The government of the United States is democratic. How do these forms of goverment differ from one another? If possible, invite an elected official to come speak. What are a citizen's rights and freedoms in a democracy? How are they preserved and protected? How are they threatened? Could what happened in Among the Hidden happen in our society?
  • You are the chief propaganda officer of the Population Police. Create a bumper sticker or billboard reminding ordinary citizens that third children are against the law.
  • Imagine that fifteen years have passed since Luke left home. Where is he now? What is he doing? Is it still illegal to be a third child? Compose a letter he writes home to his parents. Are they still on the farm?

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of four other books: Leaving Fishers; Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey, Just Ella; and Running Out of Time. She has worked as a copy editor, a reporter, and a college instructor. The second child in a family of four children, Ms. Haddix grew up on a farm in Ohio. She now lives in Ohio, with her husband and their two children.

Look for Margaret Peterson Haddix's new novel, Turnabout, in Fall 2000.

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed teen and middle-grade novels, all published by S&S. She lives in Powell, Ohio, with her husband and two children. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Margaret Peterson Haddix

What inspired you to create the Shadow Children series?

MPH: I first started thinking about the whole scenario when my husband and I were trying to decide whether or not to have a third child. We discussed the issue of overpopulation, and how that should affect our decision. In frustration one night I thought, "Well, if overpopulation were that bad of a problem, there'd be a law that nobody could have more than two children." My next thought was, "Wow. What if there were a law like that?"

By any chance, are you a third child? Do you have more than two children?

MPH: No to both questions. I'm a second child, out of four. And I have only two children, though there are usually several of my kids' friends hanging around the house so it often seems like I have more.

When you wrote the first book, Among the Hidden, did you envision it would be the first in a series?

MPH: Not at all. I intended it to be a stand-alone book, and for a long time I resisted all suggestions that I continue the story. Then I got the image in my head of Luke lying in bed at night in a strange place, surrounded by strangers, and whispering his real name to himself in a desperate attempt to hold on to his real identity. That became the opening scene of Among the Impostors and the beginning of the rest of the series.

Each of the books has been so different, yet based on the same themes. How are you able to keep the series fresh?

MPH: I think it's helped to switch between main characters, so everything isn't always from Luke's perspective. And, although I didn't plan this from the beginning, the situations in the books keep changing, with the shift in the government and more restrictive rules. My characters are becoming more desperate, with good reason.

Your books all offer so many twists and turns that they are real page-turners, yet all of the angles come together. How are you able to keep everything straight as you write these books?

MPH: Well, I'm not always able to keep it all straight the first time through. Sometimes I write myself into corners and struggle to find a way out. Revision is definitely helpful.

You don't specify the setting for the books. Is this meant to suggest that this type of totalitarian government can take place anywhere in the world, at any time?

MPH: I don't want to sound like that much of an alarmist, although it amazes me how ordinary, otherwise sane and supposedly even good people accepted dictators like Hitler in the past. I did consider, early on, stating outright that these books take place in the United States in some not-so-distant future, after droughts and famines and a drastic change in the government. But explaining all of that would have been an immense interruption in the story. And I thought a lot of people would dismiss such a possibility out of hand, and then dismiss the entire series as implausible. So I left the setting as some vague, fictional place in some vague, fictional future, with hopes that this would make readers think for themselves about whether such a shift would be possible here.

How much do current events affect your plot choices for the series?

MPH: The first three books were not affected at all by current events. Instead, while I was planning for them, I did a lot of historical research: I read about famines in the past; I read about the difficulties Jewish children faced coming out of hiding after World War II; I read about the different resistance movements that sprang up to fight the Nazis throughout Europe; I read about the Soviet Union under Stalin; I thought about my father's stories about growing up during the Depression and my own fascination with some world events of the 1980s, particularly Tiananmen Square and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. I thought I was drawing on tragedies and hopes of the past in order to imagine children fighting a dismal future that I didn't believe would really happen.

My perspective changed after September 11. I had just begun writing Among the Barons in the fall of 2001, and for a few weeks after the terrorist attacks I felt it was impossible to continue. It seemed wrong to write about opposing the government -- any government. I knew Oscar was going to carry out some form of sabotage, and it made me sick to think about writing that. When I finally returned to Barons, it became a very different book than it would have been if I'd finished it September 10, 2001. Luke's confusion and dread mirrored a lot of what I was feeling in real life.

Among the Brave and Among the Enemy have been less connected to current events, but there are certainly overtones. In the Shadow Children world, people gave up all their freedom for food; our country is currently struggling with the question of how much freedom we can or should give up for security. In Brave and Enemy, Trey and Matthew and Matthias put their lives on the line trying to protect or save other people; soldiers and firefighters and police officers made and continue to make similar choices.

I really wish we were living in safer, happier times, and I could base the books solely on my own imagination and history. But seeing all the connections to reality does make me more thoughtful and careful about what I write.

The Shadow Children long to live freely, yet have been conditioned to fear the outside world. Do you feel that readers can relate to this feeling of fear and powerlessness? Why?

MPH: Yes. We live in frightening times, and it's hard to know what to do. I think a lot of people feel powerless right now. Also, on a less dramatic scale, I think most teens and preteens can relate to wanting to be in control of their own lives but being afraid of all the responsibility. That's part of growing up.

It's fascinating how minor characters in earlier books become the protagonists of later books. Did you plan this when you began writing the series?

MPH: When I agreed to do more books after Among the Hidden, I expected to tell about numerous characters besides Luke. But I didn't really plan the interconnections -- my original thought was that I'd skip from one character to another, in vastly different circumstances. I think I was seeing the series as several related stand-alone books, rather than an actual series. But then after Among the Impostors, it was like Nina said to me, "Hey, I've got a story, too. Want to hear it?" In retrospect, it makes sense to me that the minor characters grow into main characters in subsequent books. With practically every book I've ever written, I've known more about the minor characters than I can fit into the book. So it's been a joy to get to expand on some of those characters in other books.

The Shadow Children series is hugely popular with middle grade and teen readers. What are the most common questions that kids ask you about the books?

MPH: A lot of kids ask where the books take place, and whether I think the events in the books will really happen. They ask how I got the idea for the series, and whether I know about the one-child policy in China. One of the most poignant questions anyone ever asked me came from a boy who wanted to know where the Population Police are because, he said, "I don't want to go there." And I thought, okay, maybe he doesn't quite understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction, but he does get the bigger point. None of us should ever want to go to those kinds of restrictions, that kind of a police state.

Do you hope to send any particular message or moral when writing these books?

MPH: My primary goal is to tell a good story -- I can't think of much that turns off kids faster than books that are overly didactic or moralistic. But I'm always glad when kids tell me these books have made them think about freedom and courage and personal choices and sacrificing for others.

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Reading Group Guide


Imagine living in the shadows, hiding your existence from almost everyone in the world. This is the plight of Jen, Trey, Nina, and all other third-born children. With their nation plagued by drought and food shortages, their government has made it illegal for families to have more than two children. Yet thousands of thirds exist without identification cards or rights of any kind. As these shadow children begin to discover and communicate with each other, their worldviews broaden. They begin to wonder why their government claims that they are the cause of all of their nation's ills, and they question the worth of their leaders themselves. Fearfully, unwittingly, or angrily, these secret children emerge from the shadows to fight for change.

The seven Shadow Children novels are told from the viewpoints of Luke, the beloved third son of a rural family; Matthias, the abandoned urban orphan raised by elderly moralist Samuel; and other third children. Their narratives offer readers differing perspectives on the compelling questions explored in the series. Should the government have the right to dictate the size of families or other aspects of how people choose to live their lives? In an age of televised news, how can one be certain what is really happening in the world and what is illusion — who is telling the truth and who isn't? Can individual actions truly affect the future of a nation? And, ultimately, what does it mean to live in freedom?


Why do you think some families decided to have third children despite their society's desperate circumstances and strict laws? Do you think that the benefits of having another child would outweigh the sacrifices that must be made? Why or why not?

Each third child comes from a different background and type of hiding place. How are these children treated by the people who care for them and hide them? How do they feel about their circumstances? How do these feelings affect their actions?

How does the government enforce its rules? Do you think its plan for dealing with the low food supply is a good one? Is it justified? Must governments limit individual freedoms to protect their citizens as a group? Is this the case in your own country?

To come out of hiding, shadow children must assume false identities. How would you feel if you had to live under an assumed name, denying your relationship to your family? Which shadow child's feelings about this situation are most like your own and why?

Are the shadow children in more danger when they are hidden or when they venture out into the larger, more complicated world? In what ways do you think this would be a difficult transition to make? Would you feel safer or less safe out in the world?

Shadow children are often uncertain whether people are their friends or their enemies. Cite examples when third children question the loyalties of Mr. Talbot, Smits, Oscar, and even members of the Population Police Force. Is trust as difficult in your world?

A critical challenge faced by each shadow child is the sense that one individual cannot make a difference. When do Luke, Nina, Trey, and Matthias express this sense? Are they correct? What is the relationship between this feeling and the leadership roles these children ultimately take on?

How do different characters contribute to the fight for the freedom of the shadow children? How effective is Jen's rally? Does Luke help the cause when he joins the Grant family of Barons? Can Trey's fear be a type of courage? How do Mr. and Mrs. Talbot, Mr. Hendricks, and even Philip Twinings help the fight?

It becomes increasingly clear that the government is misinforming its citizens. What lies are told on the public television channels? How is the information on the Baron channels different? What roles do television and the Internet play in the novels?

Why do you think the government is, in a sense, framing the shadow children for the nation's problems? Whom do you think the starving population would be angry with if they did not have the shadow children to blame for their hunger?

In what ways does hunger affect different characters and their actions? If your family were hungry, would you have joined the Population Police? Why or why not?

When Aldous Krakenaur and the Population Police are defeated in the final book, are the third children truly safe? What does Luke do to expose Oscar? Why does Nina feel that only a third child could have stopped Oscar?

What kind of government do you think — or hope — the shadow children will help to create? How does Luke imagine the future? Do you think it will be perfect? Do you think it will be better? Explain your answer.


Among the Hidden begins with Luke musing: "I will never be allowed outside again. Maybe never again as long as I live." What might you do if you were facing your final moments outside? How does this passage affect your understanding of the series?

Jen tries to persuade Luke to join the rally, saying, "You've got to come, Luke, or you'll hate yourself the rest of your life. When you don't have to hide anymore, even years from now, there'll always be some small part of you whispering, 'I don't deserve this. I didn't fight for it. I'm not worth it.' But you are, Luke, you are." List three ways Jen's words are important. How is Jen, who dies, a key character throughout the series? Compare and contrast the characters of Jen and Samuel as moral thinkers and leaders.

Near the end of Among the Impostors, Mr. Hendricks explains that, "The Population Police can lie too...It suits the government's purposes to say they are arresting third children rather than traitors." Why might this be better for the government's purposes? Are third children the real cause of the nation's troubles?

Among the Betrayed opens with Nina's thought that " the bogeyman and the Big Bad Wolf and the Wicked Witch and the creep-show monster, the Population Police belonged in stories and nightmares, not real life." What makes these rebellious thoughts? What makes these brave thoughts?

In Chapter 29 of Among the Barons, "Luke remembered a quote from one of his history books: 'The king is dead, long live the king.'" How do Luke's experiences help him understand these words spoken upon the death of France's Kings? Is the transfer of power in Luke's world really this clear? How might this quote be understood in terms of the way leadership changes hands in your country?

In Chapter 21 of Among the Brave, Luke's brother, Mark, complements Trey on being braver than him. As Trey Responds, he realizes, "People are brave in different ways." Explain this quote in terms of the different types of bravery depicted in the series.

In Chapter 19 of Among the Enemy, Matthias wonders why he could save a Population Police officer, then fight against him. "It had to do with Samuel telling him, over and over again, 'Killing is wrong.' Even...back in the cabin, Matthias hadn't wanted to be an accomplice to any more murder." How does the memory of Samuel affect Matthias's thoughts and actions? How do Samuel's words affect your understanding of the relationship between third children and their government?

At the end of Chapter 8 in Among the Free, Luke asks a boy about his loyalties. "'Which side am I on?' [the boy] repeated. 'What do you think? Whatever side feeds me — that's the one for me.'" Luke later muses, "Shouldn't the enemies of my enemies be my friends?" Discuss loyalty in terms of these two quotations. Could you ever be driven to think like the hungry boy? Why or why not? How would you respond to Luke's circular question about the enemies of his enemies?



The premise of the Shadow Children series is that third children must live in hiding, pretending not to exist. Imagine you are a third child. Write three to five journal entries describing your life, how you feel about it, and your dreams, if any, for the future.

Margaret Peterson Haddix calls these novels the "Shadow Children" series. What other words, such as hidden or forbidden, describe third children? Look up "shadow" in the dictionary. Based on these exercises, write a short essay explaining why "shadow" is, or is not, the best word to use in the series title. If not, what series title would you suggest?

Make a "top ten" list of reasons people join the Population Police. Then, in the character of one of those of people, write a speech explaining to the Population Police why you have come to join them. Read your speech aloud to classmates.

In the final book, Luke balks at being interviewed on camera, stating that if he is free then he has the right to say nothing. Why does Luke say this? Role-play this scene, having one classmate act as the interviewer while others play liberated citizens. You may also want to role-play the scene in which citizens begin to testify against third children once again. Discuss ways in which these role-plays are similar and/or different.


The world's six billionth child was born in 1999, and our population continues to grow. A growing population poses risks to the planet. Imagine you have just been told that you are child number six billion. Write a journal entry describing how you feel about this fact.

The world's three most populous countries are China, India, and the United States. Research how population growth has been handled in one of these countries. Compare and contrast the different population changes and policies with the research of other classmates or friends. Have the policies been successful? What positive and negative effects might these policies have in the future? (Hint: Excellent data is available on the Population Reference Bureau website:

Food and Hunger

Luke's family lives on a farm, and he is very interested in gardening and hydroponics, the growing of plants in a nutrient-rich water rather than soil. Learn more about these disciplines by trying to grow some vegetables of your own or trying your hand at hydroponics.

The people of the Shadow Children world sometimes act against their moral senses because they are starving. What does it mean to be hungry? Write a paragraph describing how your stomach, limbs, and mind feel when you have missed a meal. Compare this to an encyclopedia definition of starvation. Based on these observations and facts, write a defense of the starving people's bad acts.

How do we deal with hunger and famine in our modern world? Research the policies that different countries have for dealing with hunger both at home and abroad. Stage a debate, with each person advocating a different approach, and see if you can reach a consensus about which methods are the most effective.

Governments and Control

Are these novels about a strong government preventing famine through limiting population? Or are they about a failing government attempting to keep control despite the famine by blaming third children for the entire population's hunger? Write a paragraph explaining which of the above sentences best describes the crisis of the Shadow Children series and why.

Research the population control efforts of the Chinese government, the vilification of the Jewish people by the Nazis in World War II, or the racial hierarchy established between the Hutu and Tutsi people in Rwanda. Present an informative poster based on your research to friends and classmates. Discuss the ways in which each of these governments resembles the actions of the Shadow Children government. Then, if desired, write a paragraph stating which real-life situation you think is most similar to the series and why.

To promote the idea that third children are villains, the government feeds the population propaganda through television and posters. Find the dictionary definition of propaganda. Look for examples of propaganda in the novels. Then create your own propaganda poster defending or blaming third children for the troubles of their nation.

Luke and his friends ultimately have the opportunity to help create a new government. With classmates or friends, brainstorm a list of rules, regulations, and freedoms for the new government you would create for the Shadow Children. Or you and your classmates can each draft a new constitution for the Shadow Children to present to your class. Vote on the best constitution.

What does it mean to be free? Hold a Freedom Day at your school or classroom. Learn about celebrations of freedom across time and cultures. Write an essay, poem, or song lyrics; create a sculpture, drawing, or collage; or improvise a dance or a play showing what freedom means to you.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 889 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011


    The Best book. I really want to read all the books. I loved it. But the ending is so sad. It made me cry. But really good book. I recomend it to any fifth or sixth grader!

    55 out of 62 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Haddix Triumphs

    Among the Hidden by Margaret Haddix created a wonderful reflection on the future. Not only will this book want you to read more of the book, after the ending, you will want to read more and more of this epic series called, The Shadow Children. This book is for kids who want a quick easy read and someone who is looking for and on going series (eight books).<BR/> In this capturing book, Haddix makes the future seem even darker then it already seems by enforcing the Poplulation Law which limits each family to a meager two children. Usually a family follows the law, but some of the daring have an illegal third child. these illegal third children are called shadow children. Luke, the main character is known as one of these shadow children. In Among the Hidden, Luke has to hide out in his house by himself, avoiding contact with windows light, or anything that could seem suspicious. After a few days of looking out of his vent (no one could see him there) he notices a flickering light in one of his neighbor's window knowing that all the family was gone. This new possiblity of a shadow child living next door gives Luke new hope. This new hope inspires him to brake into his neighbors new home and meet his new friend Jen. These two shadow children struggle to find what is actually right. Staying in or fighting for their right. <BR/> Other books from this grabbing-of-a series include Among the Imposters (book number two) and Among the Betrayed (book number three). Again, this book is a quick easy read and might not be that great for someone who wants to get into a big book, but for those of that kind, there is the on-going series this book is a part of.In this breath- catching, suprise-ending, epic novel Haddix gives the reader a dark, murky reflection of the not-so-far-away future. And does it triumphuntly.

    49 out of 54 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2012


    This is the best book in the whole wide world. If you like the hunger games this book is for you. You will be biting your nails near the middle and the end. The ending is also very suprising. It is about the population law that you can not have over two kids. If you do they will be killed. So allthe third children have to hide from everyone so the population police will not find out. I reccomend this book to fourth firth and sixth graders. I hope this helped!

    27 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    February 21,2012

    An awesome book,couldn' t put it down till i finished it"!!!!!!!!!!! Read it!"!!!!

    26 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    B.B.E.! (best book ever!)

    I am reading the book with my class and i luv it! I will start to read it, and then when class is over, Ill forget what im even doing! Im to focused on the book because its so full of mysteries and I just cant describe how good it is! I hate the population police, the government only lets you have two children or they take away your third. SO WRONG! To even have a third you have to hide him away. Here's a short summery of the book. Luke is a third child who is growing up hidden because of the population law. The woods around his familys farm is being cut down and alot of barons(rich people) move in around there. Luke risks his life to go to another family's house where he thinks he saw another third child. Luke meets the third child and she wants to stand up against the government to get the same rights as legal people. Read the book to see if the do or dont get their rights.

    21 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Best Book Ever!

    I would reccomend this book to anyone who loved the hunger games or little house on the prairie! You will fall in love with Luke and feel his emotions as he tells you his story. I cried and laughed and overall loved this book!

    17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Among the Hidden

    My fifth grade class enjoyed this book. It took a while to get into the "meat" of the story and they got bogged down with it but the story and premise were good.

    13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2012

    Must-read for all ages

    I read this book when I was in middleschool, and reread it again since my students never heard of the series. I cried my eyes out, and its definitely one of my favorites. Best for a quickread, those who like adventure, suspense, and a tug at your heartstrings. Definitely give this a try!

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Among The Hidden a life changing story

    "Among the Hidden', Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a science fiction novel from The Shadow Children Series. It is filled with solutions and adventures that you think are working out in one way, but in reality are working just the opposite. It describes the characters feelings and what the author is telling you. Reading "Among the Hidden" produces so many thoughts that made you want to read more.

    Luke, an average teenager, has been stuck in his attic hiding from what they called Population Police. The Population Police have forbidden parents to have a third child. Luke always wanted to be free, but while sitting on his bed in the attic, he saw this face in the neighbor's house where he knew nobody should be home. Later in the book, while Luke's parents are out, he goes over and finds that he is not the only child hiding, and there is a girl who lives next door. Problems come along and in the end Luke moves and gets a fake i.d.

    The Shadow Children Series has a sequel of books that just get better as you add on more problems. I recommend this book to a variety of children from ages 11 to 18. For those parents who do not like their children to be reading about somebody just being killed, then I do not recommend it. The way Margaret keeps adding problems, it makes you not want to stop reading. I read half the book in one day. In the begging it is a little hard to get into, but it was an awesome book after about a quarter of the way through. Before I read this book, I didn't really like reading, and now at home I am getting in trouble for doing nothing but reading. If you are a teacher and have a student that doesn't like reading, I would definitely recommend this book.

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2012

    Haddix among the hidden

    Im reading this book at school so fare really good book. I hope that the little secret changes read this book you WONT put it down!

    8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    Awesomeee!!!! :)

    This book out of all the books I have read is the most descriptive, hard griping, enjoyment book yet! (and forever)

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012


    The whole series is amazing! U should all read it

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    Fine for children??

    Is this book fine for 12 year olds??

    6 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2012



    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2012


    Best bok ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :~)

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012


    There are so many twists and turns in this book. You feel like you are on a super crazy rollercoaster.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012


    I highly recomend this thrilling series. I couldnt stop reading it. Theres so much suspence through the series you are sad when youve completed it. Haddix has many other great books like the found series. These series are must reads!!!!

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2010

    Among the Hidden

    Title: Among the Hidden
    Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

    3 Things I liked about the story:
    1. The author makes something up that might happen in the future.
    2. The author added a lot of detail and dialogue.
    3. How Luke met a friend named Jen and they were both shadow children.
    3 Things I didn't like about the story:
    1. One thing I didn't like was that Luke had no life and he didn't exist.
    2. That it took a long time for Luke to meet somone.
    3. That Jen's father was a part of the population police.
    My Book Review: The book Among the Hidden was a great book. But at times it could get bad and a little confusing. Luke is a non existing child. This is because the population police only aloud two children per family and Luke was born. Instead of killing him they decided to keep Luke and be nonexistent. Later in the book Luke sees a girl named Jen and discovers she is a shadow child to. What will happen? Will Luke and Jen figure something out? Or will they be executed.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012


    I got this book out of the libray not knowing this book. But as soon as i started reading i got sucked in. I lllllooooovvvvveeee this book

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    Not the best. I am putting thus review on here because I have to but it is on Haddix (#1)

    If you have read Haddix (#1) you must be interested in mystry books. If you are not interested in mystry books, I would recomend for you not to read this book. I am not interested in mystry books and I was not entertained or amused by this book. Some mystry books have scarythings in them. This book has scary things in them.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 889 Customer Reviews

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