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DuPrau, Jeanne.
New York : Random House, 2003.
IL 5-8, RL 5.8
ISBN 0375922741

(11 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

It's assignment day.  Lina has dreamed of this day for so long.  She's dreamed of wearing the red coat of a messenger.  She knows no one gets to choose his/her own job.  Everyone is assigned one and must work at it for two years before a transfer can be considered. After all, everything is done for the good of the City of Ember.  When the jobs are announced, Lina receives the worst possible news.  She's been assigned to the Pipeworks.  Working underground in horrible conditions is her fate.  Until her friend Doon asks to switch with her.  He's been given the job of messenger but he wants to work in the Pipeworks.  Lina can't believe her luck.  But then she starts wondering why it is so important to Doon to work on the generators.  Could what he says be true?  Is the City of Ember running out of light?  Can Lina and Doon really help save their people?

Booktalk #2

Imagine living in a city where there is no sun or stars.  Of course, you wouldn't know about the sun or stars if you lived in in the city of Ember. The only light the city has comes from large floodlights that are mounted on tall poles and on top of buildings.  Everything in the City of Ember is old.  Sometimes the lights go out in the middle of the day and the people of Ember experience darkness so total that it is suffocating.  There have been more power outages lately and everyone is beginning to worry.  Twelve-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet will be having their Assignment Day where all 12-year-olds receive their working assignments.  Doon wants to be assigned the job of pipe works laborer.  It's a very dangerous job working in the deep tunnels under the city but Doon wants to help save the city.  Lisa wants to be a messenger and run throughout the city in a red jacket delivering messages.  But on Assignment Day, they do not get the job they want.  Later, Doon and Lina trade jobs and everything seems to be OK.  But is it really?  What about the message that was found in a secret box in Lina's closet and what about the secret door that Doon found in the tunnels.  Are the message and the door connected?  Lina and Doon vow to find out so that they can save their city.  Read City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.   (New Hampshire Great Stone Face Committee, 2004-05)

Booktalk #3

In a post-apocalyptic underground world, Assignment Day arrives for 12-year-olds Lina and Doon who receive their jobs as “pipeworks laborer” and “messenger.” After trading jobs, the pair become detectives in search of the truth about their threatened subterranean city. Lina’s grandmother accidentally uncovers instructions on how to escape from the dark world, and it is up to Doon and Lina to find the way out. The story’s likable and courageous characters keep this science fiction thriller moving to the cliffhanger ending.  (Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Program, 2004-2005)

Booktalk #4

In a post-apocalyptic underground world, Assignment Day arrives for 12-year-olds Lina and Doon who receive their jobs as “pipeworks laborer” and “messenger.” After trading jobs, the pair become detectives in search of the truth about their threatened subterranean city. Lina’s grandmother accidentally uncovers instructions on how to escape from the dark world, and it is up to Doon and Lina to find the way out. The story’s likable and courageous characters keep this science fiction thriller moving to the cliffhanger ending.  (Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Program, 2004-2005)

Booktalk #5

Imagine living in a city where the sky is always dark, illuminated only by electric light bulbs. This is where 12 year-old Lina lives, in the city of Ember built underground. No one is permitted to leave Ember. The citizens of Ember are told it is dark and dangerous beyond the city limits. As time passes, the electric lights begin to flicker more and more. Sometimes there are long blackouts that terrify the citizens. Will their city soon lose all of its electricity? The townspeople are eventually supposed to receive a message allowing them to leave the city of Ember and return to their homes above ground. But, that was many generations ago, over 200 years have passed and most people have given up hope. Then Lina finds an ancient message written on fragments of parchment, can this help them save the city? Read this thrilling page-turner to find out what happens.  (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2004-2005)

Booktalk #6

Lina and Doon are at the age where they must now take jobs. Lina becomes a messenger and Doon becomes a plumber. They both live in the city of Ember. At first seems thing okay, but troubles lie deep in Ember. The city is running out of supplies, the generator is breaking down, and to make it worse the mayor is stealing what's left. And did i mention...the live underground. Together, Lina and Doon must solve a riddle Lina found in the back of her closet. They find their way through the plumbing and travel above ground. Not knowing what to expect, they send  a note hoping that someone will understand how to follow them. This will be continued by another book in the series.  (Tracy Roope,,  HCMS Library)

Booktalk #7

This book, The City of Ember, is about a girl named Lina Mayfleet and a boy named Doon Harrow who are twelve years old and are getting their first jobs for the city of Ember and Lina wants to be a messenger, but she draws the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer while ahe was wishing to be a messenger. Doon Harrow desperately wants to be a Pipeworks laborer but instead draws the only card with messenger on it. Doon asks Lina to trade jobs with him so he might be able to figure out why there were blackouts and if he could fix the generator so that there would be no more blackouts. One day Lina comes home and finds her grandmother sorting through piles of junk trying to find "something important that was lost a long time ago" Lina tries to get her grandmother to stop, but she will not. The next day Lina comes home to find the same sight, but instead of in the kitchen, her grandmother is in the living room ripping up the couch and pulling out the stuffing. One day, a week later, she comes home to a sight of her grandmother in a small closet throwing the items that she doesn't need out of the closet and onto the dining room floor. Lina sees her little sister sitting on the couch ripping up and eating a piece of paper. Lina asks where she got the piece of paper and her sister points to a metal box with an intricate locking system and Lina immediately demanded that Poppy, her sister, spit out the paper and she did so. When Lina saw the paper she put on the table to dry out, when it dried out Lina tried to paste it together and decipher the message written on the paper it was either typed or written a in a very consistent hand. Lina ponders what the message could be and eventually invites her friend Doon over to try his cunning on the letter to see if he can figure out what it says, if it is a warning or directions to a way out of Ember. They eventually get a vague meaning of what the letter said and they tried to find what the letter led them to. They found what they were looking for in tunnel 351, a door that was locked!, but there was no key to be found and they went back up to the city. A week or so later Doon went back down to tunnel 351 and the door was unlocked with the key in the lock! Doon saw the mayor of Ember lying in a couch with a plate of food on a table in front of him. Doon looked through the boxes and found boxes full of cans, light bulbs, medicine, clothes, shoes and many other useful items that Ember was running short on. Doon excitedly ran up to the surface and told Lina all about his discovery. Then they ran together to the city hall and told the police officer of what the mayor was doing. While they were telling the police officer the chief police officer came out of the room which he was in and stood there watching what was going on between Lina, Doon, and the police officer. When Lina and Doon left the building the police officer told the chief what Lina and Doon told him.  (Thomas Grimes,, HCMS Library)

Booktalk #8

In a city of food shortages and power blackouts, Lina and Doon struggle to piece together instructions for their survival left behind over 200 years ago.With each new revelation comes the knowledge that powerful people are trying to stop their progress. Will their new truths help them save the people of Ember or are they too late to lead them to a new existence?   Black-eyed Susan Award nominee 2005-2006

Booktalk #9

Imagine a sky with no sun, no stars, nothing; just black dark. The kind of dark that you can almost feel in your mouth. Imagine a city lit only by lamps, lamps that are flickering and going out more and more often these days. A city where the darkness presses around the edges, threatening to creep-crawl into the streets and bring with it the beasts that are hiding within. No one has ever gone out into the darkness, except once, and we saw what happened to him. Imagine a girl desperate to wear a red jacket and run throughout the city. Imagine a boy choosing to work in tunnels deep below the earth, just so he can find out why the lamps keep going out. 

And while you’re trying to imagine all of these things, you must keep in mind that there is also a lost message, a message left by the very founders of the city of Ember, a message that could answer a lot of questions about the dark, and what might be beyond the dark, a message that has been hidden, nay, forgotten in a closet for many years. And almost as soon as that message is found, and it does get found don’t worry, it gets torn into eleventy million tiny pieces and several of those pieces are lost. But the message still has to be read. Ember depends on it.But wait, there’s more. There’s also a secret door deep down in the tunnels under the earth; a secret door that’s hiding something very secret. And I’m pretty sure somebody in the city of Ember isn’t telling the truth. In fact, that person is lying to the very people they’re supposed to be helping. 
If you’re having trouble imagining all of this, don’t feel bad. It’s a lot to take in. The first time I tried to imagine it, it kinda blew my mind. In fact, it might be easier to handle if you read The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.   Oklahoma Sequoyah Children’s Book Award nominee, 2005-2006

Booktalk #10

The city of  Ember has problems. There are shortages of everything: food, paper, pencils, medicine, everything! The only light in Ember comes from giant floodlights, and the city is thrown into complete darkness when they go out, which is becoming more frequent. Also, school ends at the age of 12 for the children of Ember. Graduation day is known as assignment day, the day the students will be given a job. The job you are assigned was a matter of luck. Lina was not so lucky. She wanted to be a messenger, but she ended up being a pipe works laborer. Her luck changes when she meets up with  Doon . Doon got the job of messenger but wanted to work in the pipe works. The lights are starting to flicker; there are even a few total blackouts. Is the city in danger as  Doon thinks? Could the ancient parchment Lina found lead to a way out of Ember, a way out of the darkness, a way to save the people of Ember? (Prepared by: Kathleen Butler, SCASL Junior Book Awards)

Booktalk #11

When the city of Ember was built, the chief builder and his assistant talked about the future. The inhabitants would have to stay in the city for at least two hundred years they decided. When the time came to leave, they would need instructions. The instructions would be put in a box with a timed lock, set to open on the proper date. The mayor of the city of Amber would keep the instructions and pass them on to his/her successor until the proper time. The mayors would not be told what was in the box, only that it was information that would be available when needed. Of course, things don't usually turn out as anticipated (Ending for short talk).

Things went as planned until the seventh mayor of Ember became ill and thought the box might hold a secret to save his life. Being less honorable his predecessors, he took the box from its hiding place, took it home, and tried to open it with a hammer. All he managed to do was dent the lid a bit and he died before returning it or telling his successor about it. The box ended up in the back of a closet sitting unnoticed for years until the time was proper and the lock quietly, unobtrusively, and unnoticed, tripped open. More years went by, and supplies began to dwindle, the power plant began to fail, and periods of darkness began to become more frequent. And, another dishonorable mayor arose.  (Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2007-2008)

SUBJECTS:     Good and evil -- Fiction.
                        Messengers -- Fiction.


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