Book #22 – City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau


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About the Book…

As 22 is my lucky number, it seems fitting that Book #22 was one of my most favourite books so far.  The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is an amazing tale of two twelve-year-olds caught in a dying community, trying to find a way out.  It was the perfect reading level for our club, the perfect  length for our club, and the perfect topic for our club.  I found a website filled with great discussion questions and activities (http://www.mce.k12tn.net/reading52/city_of_ember.htm).  Reading through this website, I wish I had an entire semester to discuss this book!

Okay, I’ll admit it…I saw the movie before I read this book.  The movie was okay, but this book really blew me away.  At first glance, the book is a mystery-turned-adventure; a young girl (Lina) finds an old piece of paper that appears to be instructions for leaving their fast-deteriorating underground community.  Lina enlists help from her friend Doon and together they discover a way out, but must overcome a corrupt mayor and the general fear of the unknown.  The book deals with topics such as caring for our fragile planet, living with limited resources, challenging authority, and finding the courage to stand up against the status quo.

What We Did…

I wanted to serve foods only available to Emberites, but I didn’t think the girls would be too happy with mashed turnips and spinach.  I did however find beet chips (to simulate beet root) and canned pineapple to help drive home the point of limited resources.  And they knew there was pizza coming during the movie, so I didn’t have too much of a mutiny!

  1. While we ate our snacks, we talked about the types of foods available in Ember and why.  The girls were very knowledgable about how to grow food and raise bees – I guess they aren’t too city-fied after all!
  2. The first real adventure in the book is when Lina discovers a mysterious message, but her baby sister has taken a few bites out of it and Lina must somehow piece it together. I printed off a similar puzzle from Jeanne DuPrau’s website as well as the actual one from the book – both were harder to decipher than expected!
  3. We then went through Discussion Questions (courtesy of Ms. Cognato’s website) and reviewed the City of Ember Map to see how Lina and Doon actually escaped.  the map is in the book’s front cover, but it’s always fun to have one to mark up.
  4. Lastly we ate pizza, watched the movie, and took a Quiz about the differences between the book and the film.  As expected, the book got much higher marks than the movie – as it should be!
EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE:  City of Ember Questions & Activities

In Conclusion…

As the bookclub grows up, so do our books.  The City of Ember allowed us to start talking about more of those grown-up topics such as corruption, group think, and salvation of our planet.  I have suggested this book as a Grade 6 novel study at my daughters’ school and I hope they take my advice.  This is one book that should not be missed!


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An avid reader of practically anything and trying to share that passion with my kids and anyone else that will listen!

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