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January 1, 2011

The People of Sparks

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The People of Sparks

Author: Jeanne DuPrau

Page Length: 154

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: In this sequel to The City of Ember, Lina and Doon lead the residents of the underground into the village of Sparks.  They are a surprise to the people of Sparks but are housed, fed and taught to live off the land.  Conflicts between the two communities begin to occur because of lack of supplies.  The people of Ember are used to a life with electricity and comforts of the world before the Disaster.  The people of Sparks are accustomed to providing for themselves.

As the book progresses, Doon is intrigued by the one of the leaders of the underground people, Tick.  He is aggressive and wants to overtake the people of Sparks.  Doon finds it hard to follow Tick’s military style of leadership.

Lina leaves with the brother of the family she is staying with to explore the unknown area of the disaster.  The journey is more than she had thought she would encounter and she eventually makes her way back to the village. 

She finds Doon and together, they again try to save their people.

REVIEW: The characters are well-developed as well as the theme of this futuristic fiction novel. Young teens who enjoyed The Hunger Games and The Giver would like this book, too.


AREAS OF TEACHING: Theme, Conflict, Character, Sequence of Events

RELATED BOOKS: Book of Ember, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, The Giver, and Gathering Blue


MOVIE CONNECTIONS: The City of Ember (2008)

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner


November 2, 2008


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Author: Norah McClintock

Page Length: 95

Reading Level: 3

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Quentin and JD have been friends for a long time. They are school-mates and they also hang out with each other after school engaging in such activities as smoking marijuana. One day, Quentin and JD are smoking in the park, scaring off some kids, when a man approaches them and tells them to leave. The man threatens that he’ll call the cops on the boys for smoking marijuana. In response, both Quentin and JD become disrespectful to the man. As they leave, Quentin points his finger toward the man as if he is going to shoot him.

The next day after Quentin and JD are talking to some girls at the beach, they start to head home but become hungry. They spot a “canteen van” in an alley and decide to see if there is any food inside it. As they are robbing the vehicle, a man approaches – the same man JD and Quentin spoke with in the park the other day. The man grabs Quentin, JD spots this, JD pulls a gun on the man, and JD shoots!!!

The man dies, but the boys don’t stay around long to see it. They ride their bikes home and change out of their bloody clothes. The incident is on the local news the next day and the TV reports that the cops are looking for one suspect that fits the description of Quentin!!! After a meticulous investigation by the police – going through school yearbooks, meeting with students in an assembly, pulling students out to talk with one by one – they arrest Quentin.

Quentin finally realizes that JD went to the police first to free himself from the blame. JD betrayed Quentin! At this point, Quentin is confused and upset at JD. Quentin tries to tell the police that both he and JD were at the scene of the crime but that JD was the one who pulled the trigger. In the midst of all this – Quentin is sent to jail.

However, after the police begin to investigate the crime further, it is discovered that JD voluntarily gave the police his “clean clothes”, JD planted Quentin’s bloody clothes in Quentin’s own home, and JD burned & buried his own bloody clothes along with the gun in a ravine – all to frame Quentin. The one piece of evidence however that reversed this false trail of evidence was a picture that JD’s sister took of JD and Quentin on the day of the murder. It shows that JD was wearing a different shirt that day – the one he burned and buried. The police look for these clothes along with the gun and find them! In the end, JD is sent to jail and Quentin is released pending his consequence.

REVIEW: Despite the awful subject matter (murder) this book was engaging and kept my attention. I would not suggest this to just any student due to the “touchy areas”. As with any “Orca” book, it is written on a very low reading level but the content is adult level. Several lessons can be learned using this story – from drugs to theft to being disrespectful to adults. The book’s cover will definitely spark an interest to some, however the real issue is the consequence one faces when engaged in activity that is illegal.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: predictions (page 27), flashback, internal dialogue, cause and effect

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: “smoked up” (page 22), Canadian pot / marijuana rules (page 26), topic of murder

RELATED BOOKS: Guns and Violence by Laura Egendorf

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “Romeo + Juliet” (2006)

MUSIC CONNECTIONS: music by Eminem, Heavy D, Notorious B.I.G.,  & Dr. Dre

RELATED WEBSITES: (toy guns) (rappers, guns, reality) (statistics)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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