Review - Among the Hidden Shadow Children sequence, Book I by Margaret Peterson Haddix Alladin, 2000 Review by Su Terry Dec 12th 2002 (Volume 6, Issue 50)
the Hidden (Shadow Children sequence, Book I) by Margaret Peterson Haddix is
a well-written suspense filled tale about a futuristic American society that
limits families to only two children. It tells the story of Luke a third
Child hidden from the outside world in his parents attic and his discover
that there are other third children like him.
the Hidden is set during the future in America. Due to an earlier food
shortage scare, the American government has created a Two Child law [Pop. Law
3903] and established the Population Police to enforce the population code. Edna
and Harlan Garner are farmers. Luke is their twelve-year old third or shadow
child. Agricultural production laws and the laws against meat consumption have
reduced the Garner farm to any almost subsistence level. They are force to sell
off part of the acreage and Edna is force to seek employment at a chicken
factory. The former Garner fields and forest are turned into a neighborhood of
exclusive housing for the Barons the rich elites of society. Fearing
discovery, Luke is forced to stop working on the farm and remain out of sight
in the attic. Peeking through the louvers in his attic window, Luke sees a girl
in one of the Barons houses where there are already two grown sons. Overtime
Luke works up the nerve to break into the house and there he meets Jennifer
Rose Talbot, another Shadow child. Jen is a Baron and is not taking her
non-existent status quietly. She is fluent in the politics and economics of the
Third Child conspiracy that favors the Barons and keeps the rest of the
population in virtual poverty. She has grown up using black market products,
false IDs, and wielding the clout of being a Baron. Behind her parents back,
she has organized a chatroom for Shadow children and a Shadow child crusade to
the White House. Jen and her political tracts are eye-opening for Luke, but
unlike the Talbots, the Garners are not Barrons. They do not have the
connections, money, or influence that the Talbots have to protect their shadow
child and themselves. As the Third Child march draws near, Luke must chose
between endangering his family and supporting only friend.
This is a tension filled thought provoking thriller
that young readers will enjoy. The book is well written. The tension is taut
and builds throughout the book. The characters are easy to identify with and well
developed. Jen and Luke are an interesting dichotomy. The usage of computer
terminology, especially chatrooms may eventually date this book, but currently
should appeal to young people.
The book offers young people a wonderful springboard
to additional reading on many interesting topics. The concept of population
control, food shortages, and the restructure of a society around haves and
have-nots may be a little bit too sophisticated for young readers. For older
readers, it will challenge them to explore the overt and covert structure of
American society, human rights and the power of governments, as well as
contemporary social and environmental issue. For inquisitive readers,
additional titles are 1984, Brave New World, and The Diary of Anne Frank.
Margaret Peterson Haddix is an
author of childrens and young adult books. She was raised on a farm in Ohio.
She graduated college from Miami University (of Ohio).She was a newspaper reporter in
Indianapolis, a community college instructor and freelance writer. Her books
numerous novels for young people including, Out
of Time (1995); Don't You Dare Read
This, Mrs. Dunphey (1996); Leaving
Fishers (1997); Just Ella (1999);
Turnabout(2000); Takeoffs and
Landings (2001); The Girl With 500 Middle Names (2001); Anya's Wig (2002); andBecause
of Anya (2002).She has also written two short story collections,
includingFine? (2000) Going Through
the Motions (2000) and a book of essays for teachers Dear Teachers (2001). To date, The Shadow Child sequence includes
Among the Hidden (1998), Among the Impostors (2001), and Among the Betrayed (2002). Ms. Haddix
has two children and currently lives in Columbus, Ohio. The fourth book in the
Shadow Child sequence entitled, Among the
Barons (2003) will be published next year.
Among the Hidden by Margaret
Peterson Haddix is the First Book in the Shadow Children sequence. Currently,
there are two additional volumes and another slated to be published. The series
is thought provoking and worth reading. I do, however, advise the readers to
begin with Book I since it details the political and legal structure of the
society and sets the fearful mood of living under the watchful eyes of the
Population Police. The book is recommended for ages 9 years through 12 years. A
Young Readers edition is also available. I highly recommend this book.
Su Terry: Education:
B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from
Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral
Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from
New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual
Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the
United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at
Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested
in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of
research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.
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