Library stages its own ‘Hunger Games’

From left, Laura Henley, the teen librarian for the Arlington Library, makes buttons of ‘The Hunger Games’ for Logan and Morgan Humphrey, and Abigail Palmer, on Nov. 20. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Laura Henley, the teen librarian for the Arlington Library, makes buttons of ‘The Hunger Games’ for Logan and Morgan Humphrey, and Abigail Palmer, on Nov. 20.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Library demonstrated its ability to adjust to circumstances in relatively short order while still staying relevant with its programs on Wednesday, Nov. 20, as its planned enzymes and digestion lab was substituted with a series of activities based on the novel “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” to sync up with the release of its movie adaptation on Friday, Nov. 22.

Laura Henley, the teen librarian for the Arlington Library, had just recently come from working with the Marysville Library, and soon came to realize that the planned lab activities were a bit outsized for the Arlington Library’s accommodations.

“When I looked at the kit, I realized that it would require extra equipment, and it would take up more space than we have in the Arlington Library for our children’s and teens’ programs, not to mention more time than we could set aside for those exercises,” Henley said. “So, since I’d already done a similar Hunger Games-themed program at the Marysville Library, I decided to bring that here.”

The activities made creative use of slightly Spartan resources, first by pitting the eight participating kids against one another in Hunger Games-inspired duels, in which they had to hold oranges with large wooden spoons, the other ends of which they used to try and knock their opponents’ oranges out of their spoons, and then by using rolls of toilet paper to try and create life-sized versions of how they imagined Katniss Everdeen’s wedding dress, as it was described in “Catching Fire.”

Henley also tested her group’s knowledge of “The Hunger Games” by subjecting them to a trivia quiz, which required them to have read the novels rather than just watched the first film, before she treated them to a round of button-making, letting them select their favorite lines from the novels and stamp them onto pin-on buttons with a button-making machine.

While one or two of the kids mistook details from the first movie as having taken place in the books, most of them were avid fans of “The Hunger Games” in print before they saw the big-screen adaptation, a fact which gratified Henley as a fellow Hunger Games enthusiast.

“I started reading the novels right when they first came out,” Henley said. “In fact, I read the first book as an advanced readers’ copy, which meant that I had to wait a whole year to read the next installment. I finished it in one night. It has really strong female characters, which I appreciate, and the story itself is captivating. You’re not quite sure of the directions that the story will take, and what’s interesting is that those who are on the side of right don’t always behave in ways that are good.”

“The books had a good pace and were really exciting,” said 11-year-old Jared Swislow, who began reading “The Hunger Games” a year ago, and who won the elimination-round orange-and-spoon duels in the Arlington Library that afternoon. “I just like the ideas behind them. The book was better than the first movie, but I wasn’t disappointed in the movie.”

Swislow’s favorite characters were the boys, Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne, while 14-year-old Abigail Palmer preferred the girls, Katniss and Rue.

“Once you start reading the books, you can’t stop,” said Palmer, who not only modeled one of the two toilet paper wedding dresses created that day, but also performed well during the trivia quiz. “In the third book, I was confused by some of the things that were happening, and I wondered, ‘What’s going on?’”

Like Swislow, Palmer is a voracious reader, devouring between one and two novels a week, and she echoed his sentiments on the film by saying, “It’s good, but not as good as the book.” While Swislow’s family had already made plans to see “Catching Fire” on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 21, Palmer expected that she would wait until it came to the Olympic Theatre in downtown Arlington, “because I love going there.”

Henley shares Palmer’s appreciation for Arlington’s small-town charm. Even as the teen librarian acknowledged that the Arlington Library is significantly smaller than what she’s worked with in the Marysville Library, she was quick to cite the Arlington Library’s unique benefits.

“We’ve got a great after-school crowd here,” Henley said. “It helps that we’re within walking distance of no less than two middle schools.”

Henley encouraged kids to check out the Arlington Library’s upcoming teen programs, which are currently set to include Shrinky Dinks on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m., and the start of a “Bring Your Own Book Club” in January.

“Rather than having assigned books that everyone has to read, kids will be able to come in and talk about whatever books they’ve been reading,” Henley said. “We’ll even have snacks.”

The Arlington Library is located at 135 N. Washington Ave. For more information, call 360-435-3033 or log onto

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