Last winter my Scholastic book rep gave my granddaughter, Erin, a manuscript to read. She told Erin that Scholastic was thinking of printing the book and wondered if Erin would read it and send her thoughts on it.

Erin is 14 and a discriminating reader. She chooses carefully the books she decides to immerse herself in. The Hunger Games grabbed her from the start; she was hooked immediately.

Carrying a book manuscript (an actual copy of the author’s work) around school invoked some comments and because of her enthusiasm, pleas for a chance to borrow it when she finished. Erin was very protective of her treasure; unsure that it was something she should share, and even wrote and asked permission before giving a book talk on it in one of her classes. After all, this book will not be published until October 2008. Did Scholastic want it shared with potential buyers?

My book rep was delighted to grant Erin permission to whet the appetite of her classmates for The Hunger Games. She also had her grandmother anxious to read it. Fortunately, my rep sent me an Advance Reading Copy recently and now I too am hooked. This is a book for all ages and one that will invoke many discussions in a family that shares it.

Quoting Erin’s comments to Scholastic:

I was hooked at once when the author told me that Panem is in the same place that was once North America. That gave me a way to relate to the book in the first couple of pages and begin to think that this could really happen.

Early on I wasn’t sure if Katniss was a girl or a boy. It is a name that was not familiar to me. I liked that Katniss was the provider for the family and very strong. Her willingness to do anything for her family made her very likeable. Then I realized that she is only a young girl and may not be as strong as she tries to act. I wondered what I would be like in the same situation.

I would recommend this book for readers at least in fifth grade since it is pretty scary and very real.

While I was reading the book, many of my friends asked me about what I was reading. I started telling them about the book and they were really interested in reading it. They also liked that it was a trilogy. My friends like to read a series of books. Even the boys were very interested in the book.

The tough part is that I am hooked! The first book hasn’t even been printed and this means that I have a long wait for the second book.

I’d say that Scholastic has a winner. I know I enjoyed it and read it from start to finish in less than 24 hours because of the story action and the quality of the writing. Rarely in reading young adult fiction do I find myself lost in a character, but Katniss grabbed me and drew me inside; I was there with her as she struggled to survive.

Readers have something to look forward to in October. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins is the book and who knows maybe Scholastic has another winner to rival Harry on the way.