Friday, January 2, 2009

Book Review: The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau

When the city of Ember was just built and not yet inhabited, the chief builder and the assistant builder, both of them weary, sat down to speak of the future.
     "They must not leave the city for at least two hundred years," said the chief builder. "Or perhaps two hundred and twenty."
     "Is that long enough?" asked his assistant.
     "It should be. We can't know for sure."
     "And when the time comes," said the assistant, "how will they know what to do?"

It is the year 241, and the city of Ember is old. Supplies are dwindling. Everything is in need of repair - most notably, the power lines that run the city's only source of light. When the power goes down, the lights go out, plunging its citizens into complete and total darkness for minutes at a time. But the intervals of no power are getting longer and more frequent, and people are beginning to worry that someday soon the lights will "never come back on."

When twelve-year-old Lina Mayfleet receives her job, as does classmate Doon Harrow, neither are happy with their lot, so they trade. Both go confidently into their work, learning their jobs, uncovering mysterious circumstances, and discovering new information. But it's not until Lina happens upon the contents of an old, dented box deep in her grandmother's closet that both kids start to piece things together. What is happening to the city of Ember? Can they save their people?

For Teachers and Librarians:
Here is a book that will hook even the most reluctant of readers. The City of Ember is mysterious, adventurous, thrilling, fast-paced, and will hook your readers from the very first page. Given the world's current economic situation, it is a timely choice to integrate into an economics unit: supplies in Ember are scarce, driving prices up and causing people to worry and hoard, make choices they normally wouldn't, and stretch what they have. Use it as a springboard to discuss the often overlooked value kids have in society, and how even the youngest among us can contribute strong and viable solutions in a crisis. Have them talk about times when they've splurged on a wanted item when they knew something else was needed. How did they feel once they'd bought it? Would they make the same choice again? Above all, The City of Ember is a great piece of fiction that will appeal to girls and boys alike. Descriptions are vivid and the story is gripping. Your students will find themselves sucked into the story, reluctant to put it down.

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
Tweens will love The City of Ember. It stars two of their own. Ember is a city in crisis, and its fate rests in the hands of two twelve-year-olds as they unravel the mystery of what's happening to their city, and puzzle through what they have to do to save its people. It's great to read aloud with your kids - you will enjoy it as much as they will. If they want to read it on their own, you can feel confident that you've given them a quality book with plenty of action, mystery, and thought-provoking situations, as well as a book with a strong, positive example that kids can and do make a difference in their world.

For the Kids:
The City of Ember is awesome! It's got mystery. It's got action. It's got danger. It's got thrills. The kids are smart, and real. And they're the only ones who can save the people of the city. Get it. Read it. You won't be disappointed. At the end, you'll be wishing you could read more about Lina and Doon and the people of Ember. And guess what? You can: there are three more books in this series!

For Everyone Else:
The City of Ember will pull you in from the first page, and not let you go, no matter how old you are. It is a fantastic story, and rather timely, given the current state of world economics. Buy it, borrow it, whatever, but make sure you read it. You'll be glad you did.

Wrapping Up:
The City of Ember is a book that relates to adults as well as kids. Full of action, mystery, and suspense, it leaves the reader wanting more. And, happily, with three more books in the series, readers will be able to continue the thrills.

Title: The City of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Pages: 288
Reading Level: 10 - 13 years
Publisher and Date: Random House Children's Books, May 2003
Edition: Hardcover, Book 1
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $16.99
ISBN-10: 0375822739
ISBN-13: 978-035822735

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