Monday, June 23, 2008

The City of Ember: A Good Book For School?

As far as children's literature goes, I'm learning quite a bit, and am pretty well read. I had heard of The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, but had never picked up a copy. A few weeks ago, I took my kids to see Kung Fu Panda, and saw a preview for the movie adaptation, and got all jazzed up and decided to read it and stick it on the book shelf for my students.

Sooooo, I thought The City of Ember was really good, I was pleasantly surprised. This book wasn't as well written as, say, The Giver by Lois Lowry, but followed a similar path. It's a dystopia themed future, with mystery shrouding this isolated group of people. And it's all up to kids to save the day. So yeah, I obviously compared it a lot to The Giver. I also found myself drawing comparisons to Zion, the underground city in The Matrix series.

I don't want to go into too much detail here and give the book away, but for a book that carries a reading level of 5.3 (5th grade, 3rd month), I have to say that I pretty much agree. I do want to read this book with my class (which I won't even meet until August 11th), and I want to read it before the movie opens on October 10th.

If you want to know a little more, then I'll go into a little more depth for you. This book doesn't have any bad language at all in it. The characters are very well written, so there's a lot of possibilities there. The letter that is hidden in the capsule, which is fragmented, could make for an interesting ongoing lesson you could do with your students as you read the book. The political corruption in the book will surely play a role in my classroom discussions as we tie in text to world schema (yeah, buzz words!). I also enjoy how the DuPrau doesn't explain the history and why they're living in this dark city, she lets the story explain the past. This book stands in contrast to many others, and would make for a good literature study in how the plot unfolds and the background is presented throughout the text itself.

That's just some thoughts. I do think this is a good book, I will be reading it to my class. I was also so pleased with the book that I'll be reading the other two in the series.