In the underground city of Ember, young Lina and Doon struggle with clues in order to reveal both the history of their city and a way to save the population before their source of light dwindles away to nothing.
Jeanne DuPrau presents a colorless society with a bleak future in The City of Ember. The citizens of Ember live underground where they face daily blackouts, food shortages, and corrupt politicians. With the source of light waning, two young citizens take it upon themselves to unlock the secret to Ember’s mysterious past. Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow navigate this post-apocalyptic world in an attempt to decode a cryptic message that may save them all.
Watch the video below:
The City of Ember Pre-Reading Activity:
Mock Assignment Day
Imagine that today is “Assignment Day” and each of you will get a job placement that will determine your future within the community. Mock job assignments will be distributed to you, and there will be a short talk about service to one’s community.
After Activity, think about...
-How did you feel about being assigned to a profession?
-What kind of world are we going to read about, where people are assigned jobs to work as messengers, laborers, electrician’s helpers, and supply clerks?
-What do these jobs show about the society of Ember?
-What do you predict the government is like?
During Novel Activities
Post - Reading Novel Activities
Partner Poetry Assignment...
Partner Poems for Two Voices and the Theme of Community in
The City of Embers
Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is for you to examine life in your community and to compare/contrast it with life in the community created in The City of Embers. You are going to express your understanding of the contrast of the two communities by writing a poem for two voices. (To further understand the format for a poem with two voices, please refer to "Honeybees" or "Two Women" for more ideas).
1. Close your eyes and imagine being part of The City of Embers community. Imagine life in a city with the only source of light coming from light bulbs. Imagine most food coming from cans (with some produce being grown in greenhouses), your whole life is in a small town of under 500 people, no t.v.'s, no radios, no computers, no ipods and at twelve years old you are given your job assignment... and you start work. How would you feel about your daily life? What would life be like in this community? What would your goals be for the future? Keep in mind, you only know about this kind of life.
2. Share your brainstorm with people in your assigned group (provided by Ms. Steawart-Mitchell).
3. On a T- chart labeled, GIVER COMMUNITY and MY COMMUNITY; list characteristics for both communities and what life is like. Be sure to compare and contrast the two communities. Explore both the similarities and the differences.
Drafting the Poem for Two Voices:
Now start drafting a poem that shows two very different points of view. One point of view is life as a member of Ember the other a person living in Regina. You will write the poem with a partner and it must express the differences between the two communities. Some other ideas that you and partner can develop might be living in the community, family life, jobs, daily life, school or what's it's like being a particular age.
Here is an example. Examine the language and the form in the following lines.
*Notice that phrases on the same line are read together. Notice that colour is used to separate what is read separately. Lines in both colours are read together.
Living in my community...
I have many choices. I choose my job.
Families in my community
Can be two, three, four, or more people.
Living in my community. . . I have very few choices I am given an Assignment.
Families in my community
Are always small.
But we always can depend on our family... (said together in unison)
Display: Create a small poster for your poem (1/2 size of bristle board), that includes your poem typed attractively and 10 visuals that reflect the differences and the similarities of the two communities. Decorate with pencil crayon and other mediums that would be eye catching and would offer "texture" to your display (suggestions: glitter, string, yarn - reflects Ember, tinfoil... be creative with your ideas on how to represent your poem).
Presentation: Present your poem to the class. Try to develop the mood and the tone of the poem by adding costumes or props. But be sure to practice the tone and parts that are in unison.
Thematic and Curricular Connections
Questions for Discussion and Essay Writing...
Grade 7's: Choose one of the writing activities listed below, be sure to fully explore all the questions given.
Grade 8's: Choose two of the writing activities listed below, again be sure to fully explore all the questions given.
Relationships Family and Friendship
Family - The main characters of the novel have nontraditional family structures. How do the main characters acclimate to their unconventional families in the towns of Ember and Sparks? How do their family relationships change from one book to the next? How does the absence of a mother affect both Doon and Lina? Both Doon and Lina are very responsible young people. How are their responsible dispositions related to their family roles?
Friendship–Lina and Doon share a friendship in the novel. Lina and Doon recognize positive and negative qualities in their friendships, a key aspect of accepting someone as your friend. What personality traits do they admire in one another? What qualities do they find troublesome in each other?
Write a multi paragraph essay that explores the relationships of family and friends in the novel.
The Effects of War– The novel is set in a post apocalyptic world. Ember is a last refuge for the human race (later if you read Sparks, it is a post-disaster society starting over.) Identify the lasting effects of war on both societies. What is the author’s message to readers? Imagine a world where technology and abundant resources no longer exist. How would their lives be altered? Explore all the ways that the lives of the citizens are different from our lives. Make connections to other societies in history or today that are impacted by war.
Greed–How does greed escalate to conflict? Trace incidents of greed by both townspeople and politicians throughout the novel. What is the ultimate message about greed in the novel? What is the author trying to say about corruption and power? Are the events of these novels a realistic reflection of human nature? Find an example in history or today, of how corruption and power can be destructive to a country or to an organization.
Community Leadership–In small groups, discuss the role of community leadership in The City of Ember and whether the leaders acted as good role models. Which characters provided true leadership for the town? Find an example of leaders in our society who act as role models for citizens. Show through examples how they are true leaders.
Art–Lina dreams of a world full of color and wonders what it might look like. She uses drawing as a way to express her dreams about faraway cities and unknown regions. She says that pictures can capture an idea or a place in ways language cannot. Sketch a place of a utopian society, like Lina does, and carefully select colors that reflect the mood and tone. Accompany your artwork with a one-page explanatory essay of your utopian city.
Language Arts–Write a magazine article for a travel magazine that describes either Ember as a travel destination. Cite lines from the novel's text that describe what it’s like to live in Ember. Use elements of descriptive language like imagery, simile, and metaphor in your writing.
Science– The novel hinges on dependence on electricity, even if it's a waning light source like in The City of Ember. Using the internet resources in this guide, research the fundamentals of electricity. How does it work? Who discovered it? What are the key scientific principles behind it? Explore the Watt’s on Your Mind Web site http://www.wattsnew.com/wattsnew3/castlegate/castlegate.html to learn about wasting electricity in our society.
Generators... visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/edison/sfeature/acdc.html
The idea of growing food and nurturing plants from seeds is paramount in this novel. Explore the benefits of growing food and buying local produce. Also, explore the benefits of composting as a means of creating a sustainable future. Besides growing their own food, how do the citizens reuse items? How do the citizens live sustainably? Why must they embrace this lifestyle for their existence?
Social Studies and Geography–When the citizens of Ember escape their dark society for a more promising land, they became refugees. Define the word refugee and research the global refugee crisis. Where are the top 10 locations on the planet with the highest population of refugees? Choose one, and then write a three page report of that location’s current refugee situation as well as a brief history of its cause.
With your report, include map to pinpoint the 10 areas of the world with the most refugees: Afghanistan, Angola, Burma, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Eritrea, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Somalia, and Sudan. Why must refugees flee their homelands and why do some countries deny refugees access into their territories?
Economics–The principles of supply and demand dictate what resources are available in the town of Ember. As Lina says in The City of Ember, “You can’t divide a can of applesauce evenly among all the people in the city” (p. 153). Explore the concept of supply and demand; make a list of all the items in the novel that are in demand. Think about the creative ways in which the novel’s characters supply these items. How are the people of the novel experts on reusing things? What can we learn in our society from the lifestyle of the people of Ember? Write an essay that explores the questions above.