Sorting Hat Saturday: The Missing

For the past two weeks, I’ve been sorting the characters of Margaret Peterson Haddix into Hogwarts houses, and I’m wrapping that up today with The Missing, a series about time travel and kids kidnapped from history. I never finished the series when they were first coming out, and I didn’t make it to the end re-reading them either. To be honest, I found the later books a bit convoluted and rushed. Maybe it’s just the lack of childhood nostalgia that I have for her other books. I don’t know. But I did love the first few, and they gave me a lot to think about Sorting-wise, so I decided to go ahead and sort the characters from the first three books.

Jonah: Hufflepuff. At first glance he may look like a Gryffindor; after all, he often acts courageously and becomes something of a leader for the “missing” kids. However, Jonah rejects both Gary and Hodge’s reckless selfishness and JB’s noble but harsh ideas about sacrifice for the greater good. Instead, he sides with the other kids themselves and won’t save the world unless he can save all of them as well. Just like the Hufflepuffs who fought in the Battle of Hogwarts did so for different reasons than the Gryffindors, Jonah’s reasons for traveling to dangerous time periods again and again are more about protecting people than fighting for ideals. He doesn’t allow himself to play favorites, either; when he is sent back in time with his sister, his best friend, and a kid he’s never met before, he tries just as hard to save the stranger. That sort of fairness is a very Hufflepuff quality.

Katherine: Gryffindor. When presented with the idea of time travel, Katherine’s first thought is to go back in time and prevent historical tragedies: to assassinate Hitler, stop the Titanic from sinking, prevent 9/11, etc. She fights as hard as she can for a cause that’s not even hers; of all the kids, she’s the only one who isn’t a missing child from history. She gets angry about injustices, such as women’s lack of rights in some of the time periods they visit, and she’s not afraid of breaking the “rules” of time travel when her gut tells her it’s the right thing to do. While she gets scared as easily as the other kids, she rarely lets fear hold her back.

Chip: Slytherin. While Katherine thinks about changing the past for the better, Chip’s first instinct is to use time travel for his own benefit, to go back and bet on things he knows will happen. He’s thrilled to find out he was a king in his original timeline and eager to fight for his crown – so eager he nearly gets himself killed. He’s a nice kid, but that’s Slytherin ambition.

Alex: Ravenclaw. I always question my instincts when sortings work too neatly, like when a group of four or eight ends up split evenly. But out of the four kids who travel back in time together in book 2, I’ve already talked about why Jonah is a Hufflepuff, Katherine a Gryffindor, and Chip a Slytherin. Alex is definitely a Ravenclaw. His brain just never stops. He remains logical when the other kids are freaking out, tries to figure out the science behind their weird experiences, and looks at the whole experience with curiosity rather than fear.

Andrea: Slytherin. I’m very hesitant about this. My first instinct was Hufflepuff, because she’s certainly kind and loyal. But it’s a selfish sort of loyalty. Other characters debate preserving history versus saving its victims, but as far as Andrea is concerned, time itself can unravel and paradoxes destroy the world if only she can save her family. “Use any means to achieve their ends” describes her pretty well.

JB: Gryffindor. JB’s main goal at the beginning of the series is to find the missing kids and put them back in their proper time periods, regardless of what that will mean for them. Devoted to fixing the past and aware that sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good, JB is actually an excellent example of a well-intentioned but flawed Gryffindor. Nothing he does is for personal ambition and certainly not out of cruelty; he is brave and selfless and believes others have a duty to be selfless as well. But it takes Jonah’s people-focused Hufflepuff attitude to make him question whether he’s right. As the series goes on, he becomes more of a traditional heroic Gryffindor.

Gary & Hodge: Slytherin. I’m not sure this needs any explaining. Who but a Slytherin would ruin the timeline out of nothing but greed?

Angela: Ravenclaw. After witnessing the impossible and being branded as delusional, Angela does not question her own sanity or dismiss what she saw. Instead, she spends thirteen years doing research on theoretical physics to try to explain it. Angela is the voice of truth in the first book; the other adults are more concerned with their own agendas, while Angela thinks the best thing to do is present the facts and let the kids make an informed decision. That’s definitely a Ravenclaw attitude.

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Sorting Hat Saturday: Margaret Peterson Haddix Novels

Welcome to another Sorting Hat Saturday. This is the second of four weeks that I’m going to be sorting the characters of Margaret Peterson Haddix, a kids’ author whose books I’ve been re-reading for my book blog. If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts, definitely go check that out, but for now, here’s the sorting:

Amelia “Melly” Hazelwood (Turnabout): Gryffindor. She might seem more like a Hufflepuff at first glance, but I would say she’s a Gryffindor raised in a Hufflepuff environment. During her first lifetime, Amelia does what’s expected of her: she participates in her community, raises her kids, and lives an honest but ordinary life. If I were to put her in Hufflepuff, it would be because it’s what she would have wanted at age 11. However, by the time she’s 11 again, I’m not sure that would be the case. Even in her original childhood, she acted bravely, for example jumping into the river to save a younger cousin from drowning. Her second lifetime – in which she ages backwards – is defined by courage and independence that she was not allowed to express the first time around.

Anny Beth Flick (Turnabout): Gryffindor. A more typical sort of Gryffindor than Melly, Anny Beth is outspoken and doesn’t particularly care what others think of her. She didn’t have an easy life the first time around but remained a good person and becomes determined to take full advantage of her second chance. She doesn’t always play by the rules, but she always does what she feels is right and wants to do good in the world.

Kira Landon (Escape from Memory): Hufflepuff. I very rarely find a book where the four main characters fit into four different houses, but this is one of them. The book-smart best friend is a Ravenclaw; the courageous and self-sacrificing mother a Gryffindor; and the ruthless, deceptive villain a Slytherin. Kira, the protagonist, is motivated by a desire to protect her loved ones. Like many Hufflepuffs, she’s easily underestimated because she assumes the best of people and lets others take the lead. However, when Rona threatens her best friend, her mother, and her family’s legacy, she steps up and protects the others. I tend to see Gryffindors as fighting for causes and Hufflepuffs as fighting for people; with Kira it’s definitely the people she cares about.

Bethany Cole (Double Identity): Ravenclaw. A sheltered child who discovers she is a clone of her long-dead older sister, Bethany is nothing if not intelligent. For instance, she “collects” obscure words that few twelve-year-olds would know, like “cascading”, “delusional”, and “disconcerting”. While Elizabeth was lively and outgoing, Bethany is quiet and contemplative. “I’m the only kid I know … who likes old-fashioned words, who’s ever bothered to read the dusty, falling-apart books at the back of the school library, behind the brand new computers,” she tells the reader (20). And, while she is disturbed by some of the things she learns about herself and her family’s past, she spends the entire novel seeking the truth and refusing to accept comforting lies for answers. She puts things together quickly, connecting the dots that link herself to Elizabeth and her father to a rumored human cloning experiment. In the end, when her parents sit her down and explain everything, there is very little she hasn’t already worked out for herself.

Lindsay Scott (Claim to Fame): Slytherin. One of the best examples of heroic Slytherin I’ve been able to find, in fact – and unlike many of them, I don’t think she would be appalled enough at the thought to plead “not Slytherin, not Slytherin” and end up somewhere else. She embraces her Slytherin cunning and uses it almost instinctively. Applying the skills she learned as a child actress, she “improvises” an intricate web of lies to protect herself. She can be quite manipulative at times, and although she never wants to hurt anyone, she doesn’t always think through the way her actions will affect others. However, she is still a sympathetic character whose decisions are understandable, if not always right.

Tessa (The Always War): Ravenclaw. A Ravenclaw who thinks she’s a Hufflepuff. At the beginning of the story she is utterly convinced she is ordinary, compared with her two companions or even the other kids at school. She isn’t a tech expert like Dek or a strategist like Gideon, but she spent her childhood reading books that are no longer read in her society, and they give her a unique strength of mind. Tessa seeks the truth where other characters are willing to accept lies and ignore questions. She puts things together in ways the other two don’t and sees possibilities where they only see confusion.

Gideon (The Always War): Gryffindor. Gideon has a strong moral compass in a society that doesn’t necessarily value that, and he comes to see that being a hero means something different than he’s been taught. While he starts out by calling himself a coward, he turns out to be anything but. When he believes they are in danger, he goes out of his way to protect the others, particularly Tessa, risking his own life to do so.

Dek (The Always War): Slytherin. If Tessa seeks truth and Gideon seeks heroism, Dek is just looking to survive. Intelligent, pragmatic, and not afraid to break the rules, she puts herself first, only helping the other two because she thinks their chances of getting home are better if they stick together. She has an extraordinary ability to read people; for example, she figures out early on that Tessa looks at all possibilities, makes a major decision based on her understanding of Gideon’s motives, and knows that the public will trust Tessa more than herself or Gideon when they finally reveal the truth: that their country was never at war.

Sorting Hat Saturday: Shadow Children

One of my favorite authors as a middle-schooler was Margaret Peterson Haddix. I’ve been re-reading some of her books for my new book blog, so I figured why not use them for Sorting Hat Saturday here? I’m starting this week with the Shadow Children series, which is set in a future where families are only allowed to have two children, forcing third-borns to either hide, take on false identities, or fight for their right to exist.

Luke: Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw. The series doesn’t push the idea of a “chosen one” who can save the world. The one character who tries becomes a martyr instead, while Luke eventually succeeds by working in more subtle ways. His talent is at bringing people together, creating strong friendships and communities, and getting people who would otherwise be isolated and afraid to work together. Changing the world is a team effort. He is also intelligent and eager to learn, which becomes especially apparent in the second book, so I could also see him as a Ravenclaw. Of all the characters, he is the only one who thinks of science as a way to change the world:

Maybe there was something smaller and slower he could do. Studying ways to grow food, so no one would go hungry, no matter how many kids people had. Or changing the Government so that farmers were allowed to raise pigs or use hydroponics … Or figuring out ways for people to live in outer space, so they wouldn’t be too crowded. (Among the Hidden, 146)

I think he could be either: a Ravenclaw for his instinct to combat injustice with science, or a Hufflepuff for his humble, down-to-earth attitude and desire to help others in subtle but meaningful ways.

Jen: Gryffindor. No question.

Mr. Talbot: Slytherin. An expert at manipulation and subtlety, Jen’s father works within the Population Police while secretly sabotaging their efforts and trying to protect third children. Both Luke and Nina have trouble trusting him at times because he plays his part so well. His goals are heroic and he saves the child heroes’ lives multiple times, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a textbook Slytherin.

Jason: Slytherin. Jason is basically the opposite of Mr. Talbot, a Population Police agent whose job is to make third children trust him enough to reveal their real names, and then betray them. In an almost Snape-like way, he attempts to protect Nina after falling in love with her, although this backfires and nearly gets her killed. The spy/infiltrator character type is very Slytherin, and if Mr. Talbot is the heroic side of that, Jason is the more standard evil version.

Nina: Hufflepuff. Despite what Jason tried to pretend, Nina would never betray her friends. Above all else, she is fiercely loyal. She loves her grandmother and aunts, cares deeply for her school friends, and risks her life to protect the kids she has been ordered to betray. When given the choice between finding Jason again and working to help her fellow third children, she chooses the latter. She is not always the bravest or smartest character, but her heart is always in the right place.

Trey: Gryffindor/Ravenclaw. Trey is a bit like Neville Longbottom, in that he starts off very timid and “cowardly”, but learns to be brave. His book is titled Among the Brave for a reason. But he’s also a book nerd whose greatest strength is his mind. He spent most of his life hiding in a room full of books, and it shows. I’m not even exaggerating when I say knowing Latin literally saves his life. I think he would be terrified at the thought of being a Gryffindor and prefer Ravenclaw, but whether that would sway the hat’s choice, I’m not sure.

Matthais: Slytherin. Matthais knows how to blend in, how to keep secrets, how to convince people to trust him, and most of all, how to survive. He has a strong conscience (most likely because the man who raised him was a warm-hearted Hufflepuff) and doesn’t enjoy playing with people like chess pieces the way many Slytherins do, but he’s certainly good at it. He’s not quite “use any means to achieve their ends”, but while he values life enough to be unwilling to use a weapon, he has no problem helping those that do via the more Slytherin methods of deception and spying. His decision at the end of book six to stay with his siblings also screams “Slytherin” to me: his loved ones come first, and the bigger picture can wait, or be dealt with by others. My biggest hesitation is that he might reject Slytherin based on its reputation, in which case I think he would be a Hufflepuff, for his ethics and his loyalty to his siblings.