Monday, September 26, 2011


Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Whitney Messenger, because she wants to give Middle Grade fiction the attention it deserves out here in the blogosphere. And I agree!

So this week, I'm spotlighting a real favorite of mine: THE CITY OF EMBER, by Jeanne DuPrau.

Here's the back copy: Citizens of Ember shall be assigned work at twelve years of age...

Lina Mayfleet desperately wants to be a messenger. Instead, she draws the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer, which means she'll be working in damp tunnels deep underground.

Doom Harrow draws messenger - and asks Lina to trade! Doon wants to be underground. That's where the generator is, and Doon has ideas about how to fix it. For as long as anyone can remember, the great lights of Ember have kept the endless darkness at bay. But now the lights are beginning to flicker...

I loved so much about this book. I love the way the characters come to life. Lina and Doon are both so well thought out and fleshed out and consistent that I was rooting for them the whole way.

Additionally, there's a mystery element to this, and it's pitched just right: not so easy that my son felt insulted when he was reading it, and not so hard that my he couldn't figure it out. It was just enough for him to think about and he was able to make the discoveries either with Lina and Doon, or just barely ahead of them enough to root for them. Finding a book that does this well for this age group is tough, so I really appreciate it when I do.

Even more, this is a book that stays with you for a while. It raises questions about what it is to be a good citizen, what it is to be a good person, and what it means to wield power over others. It explores how even the best of intentions can, over time, go horribly wrong, and how individuals can make it into something positive again. It gets young minds asking some really good questions.

Finally, I loved the ending. I thought it was perfect. It wrapped up just enough to satisfy the reader, but not so much that anyone's intelligence was going to be insulted. It left things on just the right note, and I love it when I find a book that does that.

In short, this book is awesome. My son and I couldn't read it fast enough.

And for even more MMGM, check out the faboo list-o-links at the bottom of Shannon Whitney Messenger's post HERE.

Also: my amazing PB CP Kristen Hilty is doing a contest and giveaway over at her blog The Monkey Patch. Go HERE to check it out!


  1. Last school year, I sat in the dark with a bunch of 5th graders during the annual bookfest @ school. They sat entranced while one of the parents read this--so compelling!

    Thanks for reviewing it, Ishta.

  2. I have heard lots of good things about this and I've got to read this. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. This book has been on my list forever. You're motivating me to go get it. Thanks.