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6:30 p.m., March 22: The Teen Loft at the Evanston Public Library began to fill with visibly excited teens and preteens. All of them were there to find out what library assistants Jarrett Dapier and Dan Tafelski and Evanston Township High School seniors Ruth Starr and Karen Cardenas had planned for them in celebration of the next-day opening of the long-awaited film, “The Hunger Games,” based on the book by Suzanne Collins. (See review in Art & Life, p.11.) New young adult librarian Renee Neumeier was on hand, though not yet officially on the Library payroll until the following Monday, to see her new coworkers and Loft patrons in action and lend a hand.
As teens made their way first to the “Tribute Hydration and Nourishment Center” for pizza, they made comments relevant to the book and upcoming film such as “I have a sad addiction to this book,” and “My favorite person is Katniss. She’s so brave.” Story-related activities were soon set up and young people streamed out to take part. At a table in part of the loft set up as the Hunger Games “arena,” paper silhouettes of trees had been posted all around.
Here, under Ms. Starr’s guidance, the teens constructed “tracker-jackers” (genetically altered wasps, whose venom can cause illness, hallucinations, and, “in extreme cases, death”). Wii archery, complete with Katniss, Gale and Peeta characters, was also available, as was steampunk jewelry making – where perhaps some participants put together their own “mockingjay” pins, like the one Katniss gives to her sister and accepts back when she volunteers for the Games in Prim’s stead. A scavenger hunt for mockingjay pictures was held (only in the Loft, out of consideration for other Library users), as well as a trivia game with such detail-oriented questions as “What type of flower does President Snow always wear in his lapel?” and “What is the name of the region of District 12 where Katniss, Gale and Peeta live?” Iyanna Flores and Maeve Gavagan, both 7th-grade students at Nichols Middle School, told the RoundTable that their favorite characters are Katniss (Iyanna) and Rue, “the girl from the farming district” (Maeve) and that they planned to see the film “as soon as possible.”