The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Top Ten Pointers to the Trilogy

It’s been an exciting past week or so here for serious readers, from J.K. Rowling’s new slow-release of The Ickabog to the release of the new Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. We’ve already taken a few looks here at the new prequel, which will doubtless continue to yield further treasures upon repeated readings. If you have not yet checked out The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I hope you will, and that you will join our conversation on its many layers. One of the most interesting features is the way in which the novel uses foreshadowing for events that we, savvy readers of the original trilogy, already know well. Although set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen’s name comes out of the Reaping bowl in the well-manicured hand of Effie Trinket, this novel should only be read by those who have already completed the trilogy. Like the Star Wars prequels, with moments like Obi-Wan Kenobi chiding his friend Anakin Skywalker, “You’re going to be the death of me,” BSS  is an experience that only works if the readers know what is coming. This is a useful technique in literature and film. After all, we cannot gasp with horror when Oedipus declares that the murderer of Laius will be exiled and live in misery, unless we are familiar with the myth, so we know he himself is the man he seeks and that he will indeed be ruined and miserable.  We cannot mentally headslap people in Titanic when they declare the ship’s invincibility if we do not know that the ship is going down, along with many of its passengers and their hubris.

So here are our first “top ten” moments and themes of The Ballad of Songbirds Snakes that point to and set up the trilogy we already know, some of us quite well. This is just the start to a much longer list, one that I am sure will grow with each reading. [Read more…]

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, First Thoughts on a Sad, Familiar Song

When I first started using The Hunger Games in my college English 111 courses, it was an obscure little book, and I was the only one in any of my classes who had read it before the first day. But times have changed over the past decade. I still use the book in my classes, mainly because I have not found anything else that works so well. In that time, movies have been made(with some of my students as extras), popularity has swelled, and my students who don’t pay attention to my constant harping on the importance of the number three in the trilogy (they are confused by four films), keep saying they want a “fourth” book. Instead of spoiling the beautiful symmetry of the original trilogy, the master Gamemaker herself brings us a prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is both its own special sort of creature and a perfect companion to the original trilogy.

If you haven’t yet read Suzanne Collins’s just-released prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, fear not, spoilers won’t crop up until after the break, but, if you have read the novel already, or don’t mind the spoilers, join me for a quick round-up of first thoughts, using the three major elements of the title, Snakes, Songbirds, and Ballads, but in reverse order (why? There are many reasons, actually, but I may fall back on the old excuse that I am an ornery mountain woman with excessive book learning). There will be many more posts to come, but we’ll start the dance here.

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Let the Hunger Games Begin, Again!

Image result for new hunger games novelJust last month, we were wondering what Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games Trilogy (among other achievements) might be up to these days. ‘Whatever Happened to Suzanne Collins?’ It turns out, she’s not just been playing sudoku or puttering in the yard (or imitating her creations to tramp through the woods or bake).  We have been hoping that she was writing. Earlier this week, the formal announcement came that confirmed our hopes but which also confirmed some of the fascinating metatextual concerns that have always run under the trilogy: concerns about artistry, yes, but also concerns about control and gamesmanship. Collins is set to roll out a new addition to the story of Panem, a prequel, since, of course, the Games Trilogy is just that, a trilogy, three books, no more, no less, emphasizing the triptych focus so central to the story. Set 64 years before the Games that Katniss and Peeta “win,” this new offering will doubtless cover the Dark Days, renew and continue interest in Collins’s work, and make Hollywood Gamemakers giddy with delight. [Read more…]

A Groundhog Throwback! Revisiting Posts of the Past

Apparently, since the groundhog did behold his shadow, six more weeks of winter are on their way. Quite honestly, the groundhogs where I live could see the shadow of Elvis and we’d still be lucky Image result for groundhogtoImage result for groundhog day movie get off with only six more weeks of ice melt, mud, bitter cold, and static electricity that could easily torch a Zeppelin. However, in the spirit of things, since today is Groundhog Day, references will abound to the Bill Murray film about maximum déjà vu. It is also Thursday, which has become the day to post pictures of the past. In honor of those two  events colliding, I thought it would be fun to re-visit some past posts that I really enjoyed writing and which, since they were some time ago, some of our newer Hogwarts Professor readers might have missed. So, turn that alarm clock back a few years, Mr. Murray, and let’s relive a few past posts that may ignite new conversations!

 

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Once More into the Games, Dear Friends, Once More! Mockingjay Part 2 Flies into Theaters

The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-2-Final-PosterFor the past four years, a wonderful local theater, the Yancey in Burnsville, has graciously hosted the readers of Mayland Community College for our own showing of the newest installment of the Hunger Games film adaptations. On Friday, November 20, once again the theater played the movie just for us, and, as we took in this, the last of the films based on Suzanne Collins’s remarkable trilogy, I once again toted my notebook and pen (along with lots of tissues) to collect my thoughts to share with you here.  So, the pieces are in place; the countdown has begun. Let’s enter the arena, one last time, to see how the conclusion of this epic and complex tale survived its journey to screen. (Fair warning: this detailed review contains major plot elements.)

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