A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Mem Fox (Time for Bed) and Gary Hogg (Scrambled Eggs and Spider Legs).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Howard Pyle (1853â€“1911), Otto of the Silver Hand, Errol Le Cain (1941â€“1989), The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
- In 1770, a riot known as the Boston Massacre, one of the key events that turned British colonists against King George III, took place in what would become the capital of Massachusetts. Read For Liberty: The Story of the Boston Massacre by Timothy Decker.
- Winston Churchill uses the phrase â€śIron Curtainâ€ť in a speech on this day in 1946. Read The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter SĂs.
March has been designated Write a Letter of Appreciation Month. I always say that the Childrenâ€™s Book-A-Day Almanac is my daily love letter to an author. So today I want to write an almanac letter of appreciation to Jeanne DuPrau for her magnificent novel, The City of Ember.
At the beginning of The City of Ember readers meet two characters who are being given jobs, or assignments, for their adult lives. Swift-footed Lina longs to become a Messenger and deliver communications, which are remembered and not written down. But by lottery she draws Pipeworker instead. Fortunately, Doon, who wants to work underground in the damp and smelly sewers, asks to trade with her. He has drawn Messenger for his lot.
Their city faces a grave crisis. Ember appears to be running out of provisions, stored in huge warehouses, and running out of electricity, as the lights that make life possible often flicker and go out. As Lina slowly learns what is happening in the city, Doon delves further and further into the underground caves. Together the two of them begin to piece together the history of the place that has always been their home.
Their activities increasingly bring them into conflict with the authorities in the city; they begin to uncover corruption in this seemingly ideal utopia, where all provisions are meant to be shared. In an extraordinarily exciting escape scene, the two leave, much like Adam and Eve, the only garden they have ever known to seek the world outside.
In the past ten years, dark, dystopian novels have become quite common for both children and teenagers. Published in 2003, with several sequels, The City of Ember remains one of the best of these works for fifth through seventh graders. The parallels with problems of todayâ€”scarcity of key resources, political corruption, ignorance of communitiesâ€”naturally leads to discussions, making this a great choice for book groups or classroom reading. But most important, from beginning to end The City of Ember grabs readers and pulls them along from one compelling scene to another.
If you have missed this underground community, pick up The City of Ember. It not only makes me grateful to live above ground, it also makes me thankful for writers like Jeanne DuPrau, who know how to explore important issues in a way that will keep young readers turning the pages.
Hereâ€™s a passage from The City of Ember:
She ran fast and easily through the streets of Ember. Every corner, every alley, every building was familiar to her. She always knew where she was, though most streets looked more or less the same. All of them were lined with old, two-story stone buildings, the wood of their window frames and doors long unpainted. On the street level were shops; above the shops were the apartments where people lived. Every building, at the place where the wall met the roof, was equipped with a row of floodlightsâ€”big cone-shaped lamps that cast a strong yellow glare.
Originally posted March 5, 2012. Updated for .