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Christine HeppermannAmong 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.
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family...
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.
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."
Activities and Research
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.
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.
2. 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?
3. 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?
4. 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?
5. What do you like about friendships formed over the Internet? What do you dislike?
6. 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?
7. 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
1. 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?
2. 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?
3. 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?
4. 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.
5. 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?
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!
51 out of 56 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.
45 out of 50 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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!
26 out of 27 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 20, 2012
Posted January 12, 2012
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.
20 out of 25 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 19, 2012
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!
16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2010
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.
12 out of 18 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2012
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!
10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
"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.
9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 3, 2012
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!
7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 11, 2012
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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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2010
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 7, 2012
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.