Monday, June 3, 2013
Gregor the Overlander, Suzanne Collins
Gregor the Overlander was hatched out of Collins' head as she wondered what city kids would have experienced in their world vs. Alice in Wonderland. Alice is such a pastoral setting, what with falling down a rabbit hole, it's completely non-relatable to city kids. (Or any kid in my opinion. If you've read my other posts, you know I really do not enjoy Alice in its original form). There are some things that are similar and I can definitely see parallels from the Underland to what happened with Alice.
Gregor's dad has been gone for 2+ years. Just disappeared (this reminds me of A Wrinkle in Time) out of the blue. Gregor is 11 and has found himself in a parental role, especially to his youngest sister, 2 year old Margaret, better known as "Boots". Let me tell you, I have a highly vocal 2 year old (thanks to her 8 year old sister), and this 2 year old character so closely resembles the 2 year olds I've had first hand experience with. It seems like with other books, the 2 year olds aren't as developed orally as I would have thought. So Boots is very relate-able to me. I could totally see my child doing some of the same things as Boots does. Boots falls through a vent in the apartment laundry room and Gregor falls after her. They have to go through all sorts of turmoil before they can leave the Underworld.
One theme is that Boots has unconditional acceptance of those around her. Where there are different "classes" of creatures down there, she sees equality and helps bridge the gap.
Death is also a theme. There's a part that states flat out that 4 characters will die by the end of the book. And this is a children's book. But the way death is dealt with is so tactful and so eloquent that it's not disturbing in any way. My daughter didn't even cry. Just thought it was sad. But with that, it teaches how to live every day-because you never know how much time you have. Don't wait on happiness, be happy now!
I can see the similar vein of older sibling protective of a younger one, to the point of sacrificing one self between this series and the Hunger Games. I like those ties and those ideas of protecting family and having fierce love between siblings. I hope that my older daughter can think of Boots and her younger sister and connect some dots for herself in her own life.