Violence. It’s horrific, it kills, it is part of our culture. Knowing this, I find it more than astonishing that 7th and 8th graders are watching “The Hunger Games” as a part of their curriculum. And please don’t accuse me of being an overprotective parent, because I’m not. I’m a 7th grader.

Frankly, I don’t care how “secondary” the violence is, it’s still there. Twenty-some people die. They are killed by their peers.

Though Katniss may be a strong character (and she is – I’ve read the whole series), the violence still exists. No matter how good the turkey is, if Uncle Howard burned the stuffing, then Uncle Howard burned the stuffing. The quality of the turkey may make this loss easier, but it cannot make up for the lack of stuffing.

“The Hunger Games” is rated PG-13, and yet 7th graders are watching the movie. There are students in my grade who won’t turn 13 until next October.

Yes, “The Hunger Games” does have the potential to get students hooked on reading, but there are plenty of other options out there.

I find nothing wrong with a book group for middle school students about “The Hunger Games,” but this is because a book group is focusing on the complexity and depth of the story. And I can say first-hand that the writing is complex. It is deep. It draws any reader in. I loved the writing, but this is about the movie. And movies focus on action, which is mainly killing in this movie, if the book is anything like the script.


My friend invited me to watch “The Hunger Games” with her. And I almost did, but then I remembered the ruthlessness, the torn friendships, the broken families, the blood. I remembered Rue, sweet and innocent. I remembered her pain.

I couldn’t see another human being suffer like that.

Hannah Smith-Erb


Proud that tax dollars help neighbors who fled terror

Thank you for your front-page article, “For Haven’s Sake” by Tom Bell (April 2). As someone who has had the privilege of meeting and working with some of Maine’s new residents from Djibouti, Rwanda and Burundi, I appreciated the telling of some of their histories.


Many of these individuals and families have been through terrors that, thankfully, most of us born here will never know. We ought to feel blessed to have them in our midst, and proud that they have chosen us as new neighbors.

I am pleased that some of my tax dollars help to support their escape from the tyranny, torture and persecution that many of these asylum-seekers were victims of in their homeland, and I support the continuation and strengthening of programs such as General Assistance on their behalf.

Bill Goodykoontz

Cape Elizabeth

I anticipate there will be many comments on Tom Bell’s piece about central African asylum-seekers in Maine.

I would like first of all to congratulate Mr. Bell and the Press Herald for giving us a factual look at the lives of these refugees. There is much inflammatory rhetoric out there about the cushy lives of immigrants. I’d like some of the critics to try living on $812 a month!


I believe immigration is the key to Maine’s future success and I am proud to live in a state and nation that can offer these families safety, stability and opportunity. I wholeheartedly endorse efforts to provide English classes, legal aid and other supports that will let asylum-seekers become productive, working citizens.

My family has lived in New England for more than 400 years. It is a fine old New England tradition to take in those in need and give them a hand up toward independence. To my central African neighbors, I say “Welcome.”

Patricia J. Washburn


Guardian ad litem reform needed for childrens’ sake

In response to Toby Hollander’s recent submission to Maine Voices, he cited the lack of “funding” as the real scandal in the guardian ad litem system.


In actuality, health and welfare Title 22 cases are paid by the state at a ceilinged rate that was described in the 2006 Program Evaluation and Governmental Accountability Report as “in line” with that of other states.

Unfortunately for the many private-pay individuals who fall within the Title 19 contested proceedings category, there is no such ceiling. Sadly, this current system affords a source of income for GALs built on the backs of financially beleaguered consumers.

Mr. Hollander alleged that “most” GALs are willing to take pro bono cases. In actuality, there is much resistance among the rank and file. Although not publicly touted, some GALs opine that until other workers, such as plumbers, work pro bono, GALs should not have to, either.

The “court training” required of GALs is merely three days long with no built-in mentoring program. In what other profession would such marginally trained appointees have the chutzpah to charge upwards of $100 per hour, and make life-altering decisions for children?

Although Mr. Hollander reported only 27 complaints being filed against GALs over the last two years, this small number may not be a reflection of consumer satisfaction. Rather, it may simply be that there are no user-friendly instructions on how to file complaints, nor any board of overseers with whom to file.

As a kinship provider currently caring for loving children entrusted to my care, please understand that an “adequate” GAL system is not good enough, as demonstrated by the current public outcry.


Consequently, GALs would be prudent to listen carefully, open their system to public oversight, and accept the need for reform to better serve Maine’s children.

Diane Loranger


Veto of foreclosure bill gives banks unfair freedom

Regarding Gov. LePage’s veto (of the bill to clarify foreclosure proceedings): To renew my Maine driver’s license, after being a licensed driver for over 40 years, I needed original documents to prove my identity and citizenship.

To get mileage reimbursed when I drive my car on state business, I need an original, signed invoice (any expense over $5 also requires an original receipt).


To foreclose on my home, a bank is not required to produce originals or even attest to why they cannot. I am having a bit of trouble understanding the governor’s logic.

Lisa Kittredge

Cape Elizabeth


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