Synopses & Reviews
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?
About the Author
Margaret Peterson Haddix is the bestselling author of many novels for young readers, including Because of Anya, Takeoffs and Landings, Turnabout, Just Ella, Leaving Fishers, and the Shadow Children series. Her work has been honored with the International Reading Association Children's Book Award, ALA Best Books for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers citations, and state readers' choice lists in twenty-eight states. Margaret graduated from Miami University with degrees in creative writing, journalism, and history, and has worked as a newspaper reporter and a community college instructor. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, Doug, and their children, Meredith and Connor.
Reading Group Guide
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."
- 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 you dislike?
- 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.