City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

This is a perfect Book/Movie book club selection!

Well this is actually the first book of a set of four. The movie only covers book one: The City of Ember. I love using movies to help readers connect to characters and settings. Once they get hooked to Doon and Lina I know my reluctant readers will be more likely to read the following three stories to continue the adventure.


The city of Ember is a civilization encased by darkness. NO sun, moon or stars. Only the city generator provides lights and life to this people and now it is breaking down. The city was built and stocked with provisions by "The Builders" hundreds of years before and now all the knowledge that built this city has been lost. Food shortages and the failing generator threaten their future - but what can be done? No one knows of a world outside of Ember. Will The Builders come back and save them or did they leave a way out? You'll have to read to find out!

Basic Outline:
Preview the book: Before you pass out the book, watch 15 minutes of the movie.
Book Talk
Movie type Snacks

Prepare: Rent or Buy the video City of Ember

Buy movie type goodies kids can earn as they answer questions about the book- to snack on while watching the movie. (popcorn, M&M’s, etc..)

*An alternative to watching the movie- would be to make some simple machines. The Cub Scout books have sample projects like a catapult, lever, pulleys, etc.. This would fulfill Engineer Reuirements for Webelos page 212.

Gathering Game:
Have two simple puzzles and let the boys race to put them each together. Talk about the directions/puzzle Lina and Doon had to put together.

Incentive Game:
Ask the following questions and give “movie bucks” for each right answer. Let kids earn different goodies to snack on.

Book Talk-
1. What is Assignment Day? What is the significance of it? Would you like it if our society delegated work this way? What are the pro’s and con’s to this kind of system?

2. What can be done if you don’t like your job? (trade- like Doon and Lina, or after three years you could be re-assigned.)

3. Why or how did Doon and Lina grow apart as friends growing up? (the dare to climb a light pole- she laughed when he fell. Pg20)

4. What are some rules to being a messenger? (pg 27)

5. Describe the city of Ember (dark, no phones, limited paper, no grass, only plants are at the green house… ) How is it different than our city? How is it the same?

6. What do you think about the advice Doon’s father gave him about (pg 51) “You get what you get, it’s what you do with what you get that counts”. How does Doon use this advice? Can you apply this to yourself?

7. Why does Granny have the secret box?

8. What idea or message is the author trying to make when Doon is caring for the ‘worm’ or Lina the seed? (that there is a power of creation - something outside of generators and canned foods, something real- not man made or created… is just one idea.)

9. Who finds Poppy in the black out?

10. What is the trouble with anger? Why does Doon’s father warn him about losing his temper? (pg 89)

11. What do the “Believers” actually believe? (pg 99 that The Builders will come back and save them.)

12. Why do they not give tours to the storehouses where all the food is kept?

13. What does Lizzie like about her job? ( p105 she is able to taste rare foods.)

14. Describe Ember’s Library- is it helpful or useful to Doon?

15. Why does Mrs. Murdo take Lina and Poppy in? (pg 142) Is she related, is it her job? What do you think about her generosity?

16. Discuss the moral issue about eating the rare canned foods. Is it right or wrong for Lizzie to have extra? Is it fair, right, or moral?

17. Discuss the MANY differences between the book and movie.

The escape from Ember is completely different
The Mole attack

Are to just mention a few…..

Which did your boys like better? The book or movie? And why?

This is our selection for the month of May 2009- so these are my ideas of what we will do.
I am so excited that one of our more resistant readers is loving this book! 5 days after assigning the book - he is already half way through the book!


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