As a fifth-grade teacher and a parent, I am compelled to share: “The Hunger Games” trilogy is not appropriate for children under 12.

Many students in my class have read, at least, the first book. Until recently, I had not. When parents asked my opinion of the books, or whether or not their child should read them, I had to admit that I did not know the full spectrum of the story or levels of violence.

Recently, I finally decided to read the books, so that I’d at least be able to engage in discussions with students who would surely see the film.

Once I started the series, I couldn’t stop. The story line engages the reader to follow to the end, upping the ante with each book. While this is wonderful for hooking readers and encouraging reading, the books get progressively more graphic as the series continues.

If I devoured “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay,” why wouldn’t a young reader want to do the same?

Aside from a dark premise – children killing each other in a state-sanctioned game – the trilogy offers more disturbing content as it unfolds. The least appropriate content is in “Mockingjay”: a president who sells desirable tributes as sexual slaves, and a tribute – addicted to “morphling” – who hooks her IVs up to siphon drugs off fellow tributes’ supplies.

If a faked teen pregnancy and miscarriage don’t dissuade you, perhaps a scene describing babies and children being blown to bits, “tiny limbs” littering the landscape, may.

This well-written dystopian saga contains material that parents should absolutely read cover to cover prior to allowing younger children to read it. If age or reading level would prevent comprehension of the book independently, consider passing on the movie.

“The Hunger Games” series treads into mature territory. Forge ahead carefully.

Shannon Gallagher, M.Ed.



Cheap shots say little about LePage, much about paper


After reading the editorial in the April 28 Portland Press Herald, I just had to respond to a few things (“Our View: Governor’s mouth gets him in trouble again”).

First, the governor is one of the few Maine politicians in decades who doesn’t have his head firmly placed in the sand (or someplace else, for that matter).

Second, just how do you know the governor has no evidence of non-cooperation, foot dragging or what have you?

Anyone who has worked among groups of people knows how easy it is for one malcontent to gum up the works and still be in a position to not require “disciplinary action,” or worse yet, be in a position that allows them to not be pinned down as part of a problem.

Third, what the heck does the governor have to apologize for? After looking in my well-worn dictionary, I see that “corrupt” is an apt description of many parts of the state bureaucracy.

Fourth and last, what right does your paper have to hold the governor to what you refer to a “higher standard”? The higher standard you refer to must be the one that allows you to be more concerned with influencing readers through your own claptrap and out-of-control rhetoric than informing readers.

Kurt Christiansen


Do you really think that the continual cheap shots aimed at Gov. LePage by Bill Nemitz, a biased gossip columnist (“Time to call ‘Sheriff Bart’ LePage’s bluff,” April 29), will advance the public weal or enhance the low reputation of a failing newspaper?

Your recent benefactor may want to hedge his bet. It will take more than an infusion of new money to restore forfeited journalistic integrity.

You further affront the reading public’s intelligence by presenting these assaults on a decent and dedicated public official (even though you disagree with his politics) as “news” – a confusing disservice to your readers.

Your omniscient columnist recently opined in a misplaced gesture of magnanimity that “… what you do inside your church is, was and always will be your business.”

He might consider heeding his own gratuitous advice: Vent your spleen in the privacy of your own backyard or place of business. The public has a right not to have their divine souls stuffed with tattletales, nonsense and conceited talk.

Walter J. Eno


Fear of ‘Marxist’ Sussman not supported by the facts


On April 27, letter writer Mary Jane Newell of Oxford expressed her fear that, under the (majority part) ownership of Donald Sussman, husband of “proud progressive liberal Chellie Pingree,” The Portland Press Herald would silence dissenting voices.

She went on to say, “This smacks of Marxism and totalitarianism – I have already heard the Portland Press Herald referred to as the new ‘Pravda.’ “

But on the Op-Ed page directly across from Ms. Newell’s letter were two columns: one by M.D. Harmon, the Press Herald’s longtime “house conservative,” and Charles Krauthammer, widely regarded as the most prominent conservative columnist in the United States.

Timing is everything,

I doubt that either Mr. Harmon or Mr. Krauthammer would associate Donald Sussman, who made his money as a hedge fund manager in a capitalist economy, with Marxism or totalitarianism.

Mason Morfit

South Freeport