Tapping teens' appetite for 'Hunger'

Tapping teens' appetite for 'Hunger'

They started at the Cornucopia. Filled with blankets, water, bread, matches and a variety of other objects, those supplies were soon depleted as the 15 participants raced to take the objects they deemed necessary for survival.

As the game started, many discovered some of their choices may have been unnecessary in the environment created by the imagination of the Taneytown Library staff — an environment where constant rain made drinking water unnecessary and coats and blankets a necessity.

"Water, zero points. ... blanket or coat, five points," declared Mark Foley, library associate at the Taneytown branch of the Carroll County Public Library.

The youngsters and teens participating in the "Survive the Hunger Games" program March 21 awaited their fate.

After all the points were tallied, two of the five teams tied with 20 points.

"It's a tie," Foley said happily as he led everyone into the next round of challenges — a series of stations with "Hunger Games" activities themed around the popular book series by Suzanne Collins.

First released in 2008,"The Hunger Games"popularity has grown with each year, reaching a peak this weekend with the movie release.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where 24 teenagers must hunt one another in the televised "The Hunger Games," the book features characters and situations that have developed loyal fans of all ages — despite that disturbing premise. Two other books, "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay," round out the series.

"They are killing themselves in there, but (the books) are not blatantly gruesome and not too much detail," said Christine Parker, library associate at Eldersburg Library, which held a "Hunger Games: Battle in the Library" earlier in the month.

"There is no sex, no language," Parker said. "We don't have to throw a caution out. They appeal to everyone."

Though there are 60 "Hunger Games" books in the Carroll County library system, Eldersburg Library has 194 "holds" — or people waiting in queue for one to become available — Parker said. Taneytown has a similar number of holds.

"The waiting list is insane," said Jackie Aguglia, a library associate substitute at Taneytown.

Nathan Fritz, 13, sported a "Hunger Games" T-shirt with a mockingjay pin to the Taneytown "Games."

After making a custom arrow and practicing camouflage skills (by frosting a cupcake), the teen was helping create costumes from crepe paper.

"I read each book twice," said Fritz, a seventh-grader at New Windsor Middle School. "I'm seeing the movie next weekend for someone's party."

Wearing a dark jacket with a fur-trimmed collar and her hair in a braid down her back, Jean Pembroke, 10, was dressed as Katniss, the book's main character.

"Katniss is my favorite character. She has personality," said Jean, a fourth-grader at Mother Seton School. "I just really want to see how it comes out in the movie."

Jean's mom, Linda Pembroke, is also a fan of the books.

"I love them," Pembroke said. "I couldn't stop reading them. I was surprised in each of the three books. I have high expectations for the movie."

Most of the Carroll County public libraries have had a "Hunger Games" program planned to coincide with the release of the movie. Mount Airy's "Survive the Hunger Games" is scheduled for April 5, well after the movie's release, April Whisenand, library associate, is expecting interest to still be high.

"Not everyone has read the books and they'll have the opportunity to see the movie," Whisenand said. "We'll capitalize on their excitement and hopefully get a good group."

"They're really good," Whisenand said of the books. "They have more of a pull than just teenagers. A lot of people are interested in them."

If you go

"Hunger Games" programs are scheduled at the following Carroll County libraries:

• North Carroll, 2255 Hanover Pike, Greenmount, March 31, 10:30 a.m. 410-386-4480.

• Mount Airy, 705 Ridge Ave., Mount Airy, April 5, 2 p.m. 410-386-4470.

• Finksburg, 2265 Old Westminster Pike, Finksburg, April 14, 1 p.m. 410-386-4505.