Ideas for using The Hostage Prince in the classroom

Developed by Mary Ann Cappiello, Associate Professor of Language and Literacy, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA.

The Hostage Prince, Book One of "The Seelie Wars"
Written by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
Published by Viking, 2013
ISBN 978-0-670-01434-7

Maps of Magical Realms -- The Hostage Prince begins with a map. This map not only grounds the reader In the world of the story, in this case the Seelie Lands and the Unseelie Lands. The map also serves as a preview of what is to come within the pages of the novel. The action that unfolds transpires within the locations important enough to be identified in the map. Compare and contrast this map with other maps of magical lands, such as Narnia, Oz, Middle Earth, and Hogwarts. What does each map tell you? How can readers mine maps in order to predict action as the story unfolds? You can even look more closely at the interactive version of the map from the book.

Researching References -- Like Texting the Underworld and Lucy at Sea, The Hostage Prince is filled with references to folklore, myth, and legend. As students read the book, have them keep track of words they do not recognize, and what they mean. In some instances, it may be a folklore reference. In others, it may be an example of Yolen’s extensive vocabulary at work. For example, ostler is an uncommon word, but it references someone who works at an inn or manages a stable, not a mythological creature. Have students research the origin/background of the fantastical creatures mentioned, such as, but not limited to: ogres, satyrs, feys, Queen Mab, bogles, and goblins.

Prediction -- What happens next to Prince Aspen and Snail, now known as Karl and Nomi? Have students write the opening chapter of the sequel that Yolen and Stemple are currently revising. Where do they go next? How do they stop the war from starting? How will their friendship change? What mistakes will they make? Who can they trust? The beauty of predicting within a series it that eventually, you really do get to find out what happens next.

History of Hostages -- Where did the concept of the "Hostage Prince" originate? While the story may be fantasy, the reality is that hostage taking, particularly among ruling and politically elite families, has a long history in our world. Break your students up into small groups to research and explore this history. Perhaps you can divide up your students into different continents, to see what role the exchange of hostages played at different times in history in different representative countries.

Alternating Perspectives. What’s it like to try and write from more than one first person perspective? Before, during, or after your reading of The Hostage Prince, share other stories for young people that offer alternating chapter narrations, such as The Pigman (Zindel), The View from Saturday (Konigsburg), Behind You (Woodson), and Same Sun Here (House and Viswani). Have students then write a short story that is told in alternating points-of-view between two characters. If this is too difficult, some students could choose to co-author a story, work out the plot and characterization, and then each writes from one perspective.