Among the Hidden: Shadow Children, Book 1

Common Sense Media says

A forbidden child hides from Population Police.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Human rights and overpopulation are reoccurring themes throughout the novel.

Positive role models

Characters fight against repressive and inhuman laws honorably.


A major child character is killed, offstage and not described.


A reference to brothers who "talk dirty."

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some kids may be disturbed by the death of a major character. Otherwise there's not much to be concerned about here.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the not-so-distant future, overpopulation has led to draconian laws limiting families to no more than two children, and Population Police ruthlessly enforce the law. Thus Luke, his family's third child, has lived his entire life in hiding, and now that a new development is being built on the edge of his family's land, he can't even go into the yard anymore, nor can he go into rooms with windows, as the neighbors grow suspicious if the shades are pulled all the time.

This miserable, isolated existence is interrupted when he discovers another shadow child living in a nearby house, and risks his and his family's lives to meet her. But this other shadow, Jen, child of an official with the Population Police, is less passive about her situation -- she is organizing a protest march to try to free the shadow children.

Is it any good?


What makes AMONG THE HIDDEN: SHADOW CHILDREN, BOOK 1 stand out among others in the dystopian genre (at least for children) is that author Margaret Haddix does not shy away from the bleakness or hopelessness of Luke's situation, nor from the logical consequences of the situation she has set up. The first third of the book chronicles Luke's living situation, as his loving but terrified family increasingly constrict his world until he lives almost entirely alone in a windowless attic room, and readers can feel the arid claustrophobia of his life. But she does it in a way that is fascinating and suspenseful.

Along the way the author raises many issues -- none of them are simple -- which makes this a good choice for reading groups and book discussion groups. It's never clear, for instance, how real the overpopulation crisis really is, and both sides put out exaggerated propaganda that makes it hard to find the truth. There are no easy answers or pat endings here.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about overpopulation and human rights.

  • What can be done about overpopulation?

  • What do you think should be done

  • when the rights of the individual and society are in conflict?

Book details

Author:Margaret Peterson Haddix
Illustrator:Cliff Nielson
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:June 26, 2005
Number of pages:153
Read aloud:9
Read alone:9

This review of Among the Hidden: Shadow Children, Book 1 was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old August 4, 2009

Aweosme Book!

Amazing! I love the book even though I'm a third child! ;) It's a great story and I think that the courage that some of the characters have is a great thing to read about! To any good readers that want something fun and intresting to read, READ THIS!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmoungTheHidden September 15, 2009

Perfect! Absolutley and Positivly Perfect!

This is the best book I have EVER read!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 7, 8, 10, and 12 year old Written bymomof4anddog August 22, 2013

Great book but not appropriate for all kids.

Although I find this book a good read, my concern is that it raises the question to children.. what does population control mean? The book makes reference to abortion, women "getting fixed" to keep from having more children, and IVF as those who have money can afford this procedure in order to have the designer baby they want. There is also a a reference that pregnant women are bad. This book was read to my 10 year old son's class and he comes home talking about the book and how population control is justified because people are hungry. I was forced to have a conversation about how population is controlled to a kid who was just learning that his body will be changing and now I was forced to talk about all the other stuff before he was ready. I read the book and it is a good book but not before middle school. The teacher took the parental control of deciding when my child is ready to know certain information out of my hands.


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