Frost, Helen. 2011. Hidden. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Here is a Digital Trailer for HIDDEN created by graduate student Jessica Haseltine.
Here is a Readers' Guide for HIDDEN created by graduate student Stephanie Leslie.
Frost, Helen. 2011. Hidden. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-38221-6
Recommended Age Levels
Middle School grades 6-8, ages 10-14
Summary of Book
Hidden is a novel told entirely in free verse, from the perspectives of two young girls named Wren and Darra. Part one is told from Wren’s perspective, as she is inadvertently kidnapped by Darra’s father when he steals her mother’s car with her hidden in the backseat. She is trapped in his garage, scared and starving, wondering how to get out. Part two is Darra’s version of events during the stolen car incidence and the aftermath of Wren’s escape. Part three alternates between Wren and Darra as they meet many years later at summer camp and recognize each other. They each wrestle with their emotions relating to the accidental kidnapping of Wren and imprisonment of Darra’s father for his crimes as they attempt to cultivate a friendship. It is during an intense game of “Drown Last” while in the lake that Wren and Darra finally face the emotions they have been trying to keep hidden. Wren’s parts of the tale are told in free verse, while Darra’s sections are arranged in a form created by the author, with additional information hidden in the sentences.
“This original blend of crime tale, psychological study, and friendship story is a page-turner that kids will love. Smoothly written, this novel carries a message of healing and hope.”
- School Library Journal
“Frost’s tale exhibits her trademark character development that probes the complexities of intimate relationships. Both tender and insightful, this well-crafted, fast-paced tale should have wide teen appeal.”
- Kirkus (Starred Review)
“Like Frost’s Printz Honor Book, Keesha’s House (2003), this novel in verse stands out through its deliberate use of form to illuminate emotions and cleverly hide secrets in the text.”
“Frost is a master at letting each girl’s feelings unfold from when they were eight and when they meet again. Teen readers will be intrigued by the kidnapping that opens the story, which is told at a fast pace through straightforward poems.”
● 2012 American Library Association Notable Book
● Lee Bennett Hopkins Children's Poetry Award Honor Book
● 2012 Lone Star Reading List (Texas)
● Kirkus Best Children’s Books of 2011
● VOYA’s “Perfect 10” List
● Fuse #8 (School Library Journal) "100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2011"
● Sylvia Vardell's "Top 20 Children's Poetry Books of 2011"
Questions to Ask Before Reading
Encourage children to discuss the following questions before reading Hidden.
• There are two main characters in this book, Wren and Darra. Looking at the cover of Hidden, who do you think is Wren and who do you think is Darra? What part do you think they play in the book? What do you think is the relationship between Wren and Darra?
• What does the word “hidden” mean to you? How do you feel when you think of the word?
• This is a novel written in verse. Do you know what that means? Have you read a novel written in verse before now? Did you like it? Why/why not?
Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
• Divide the class into two groups, and assign one group to be Wren and another to be Darra. Have the students read Hidden aloud, allowing each student to read a page as their assigned character.
• Have each student discover the hidden poems of Darra from the last word of each long line during her sections of the book. After one child reads a page from Darra’s point of view, have another read the hidden line on that page.
• Part one is in Wren’s voice and part two is in Darra’s voice. Rather than read the novel in traditional order, alternate reading the events that occur in Hidden using chronological order, switching from Wren’s section to Darra’s section.
Follow Up Activities
• According to the author’s note, Darra’s sections of Hidden are written in a form invented by Frost herself. Have the students think about the way Frost created Darra’s “hidden messages” and ask them to write their own poems using this same format. Once the poems are complete, they can be bound to create a class book of poetry.
• Hidden alternates between Wren and Darra, as they tell their version of events. But what about Wren’s mother, who left her in the car as she ran inside the store? And Darra’s father, as he steals the car after a robbery gone wrong? Changing perspectives can often offer insight into another’s state of mind. Think about the other characters involved, and write a paragraph from their perspective.
• Hidden ends with Darra introducing Wren to her mother. As a writing exercise, have the students write an additional chapter to add to the end of the book. For example, what would Darra’s mother say when she realizes who Wren is? Will Darra’s father be changed for the better after getting out of prison? Do you think Wren and Darra will return to Camp Oakwood the following year?
• After reading Hidden, give the students paper and any coloring instruments. Have them illustrate how the word “hidden” makes them feel, and how they imagine Wren felt being trapped in the garage for all that time using any medium they wish to use (collage, illustration, watercolor, etc.).
• Wren and Darra struggle with deep emotions after they meet again at camp. Darra also has confusing feelings for her father. Although he was abusive and involved in criminal activity, she loves him despite his faults. Like Wren and Darra, we all have someone we have conflicting feelings for. Thinking of that person and using old magazines, newspapers, etc., make a collage with words or pictures expressing your emotions.
• Part Three of Hidden takes place in fictional Camp Oakwood, Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Ask the children to research the general area where the camp would be located if it were real. What kind of flora and fauna exist in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? Are there any nearby camps that may have been the inspiration behind Camp Oakwood?
• Wren is kidnapped by Darra’s father when he steals the car where she is hidden. Have the students research the statistics on how many children are taken by strangers every year in the United States. How can someone prevent being in that situation?
• While at camp, Darra, Wren, and the other campers are asked to engage in a game of “Drown Last” in the lake. Wren and Darra stay under the surface for longer than other groups until Darra frees herself from Wren’s grasp. Invite the students to do some research on how long the average teenager can stay under water. In general, how long can a person hold their breath?
Related Web Sites
[This is the official website of the author Helen Frost. She includes an excerpt, award lists, links to reviews, and a letter written to her novel Hidden.]
Interview with Helen Frost
[This link includes an interview with author Helen Frost and the reading of an excerpt from Hidden.]
[Teacher Regie Routman shares classroom techniques for sharing and writing poetry.]
[A website where teens can submit their poetry for publication.]
Other books written by Helen Frost
Frost, Helen. 2011. Diamond Willow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Frost, Helen. 2009. Crossing Stones. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Frost, Helen. 2007. Keesha’s House. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Frost, Helen. 2006. The Braid. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Novels written in verse for Middle School Grades
Bingham, Kelly. 2010. Shark Girl. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
Creech, Sharon. 2005. Heartbeat. New York: HarperCollins.
Grimes, Nikki. 2011. Planet Middle School. New York: Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers.
Hesse, Karen. 1999. Out of the Dust. New York: Scholastic Paperbacks.
Ostlere, Cathy. 2012. Karma. New York: Razorbill.
Smith, Anita Hope. 2011. The Way a Door Closes. Ill. by Shane W. Evans. New York: Square Fish.