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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


June 5, 2010

Lord of the Flies

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Lord of the Flies

Author: William Golding

Page Length: 248

Reading Level: 7-12

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Tragedy strikes and a group of school boys, a fortunate few, survive only to find themselves alone on an uninhabited island. There’s talk of rescue. How could it happen, when, surely the adults in their lives will come looking? Then there’s the chaos. There must be some sense of order so that the boys can find food, shelter, and a plan for their rescue. Who should be in charge – the smart one, the athletic one, the popular one? What will happen when they disagree, when they bully each other, when the little ones are scared? Can they remain civilized among the savagery of basic survival or will they be their own undoing?

REVIEW: I’ve read several reviews on the Internet from people who loved this book; but, personally I found reading it grueling. The characters were sometimes hard to follow, the details were incessantly boring, and I couldn’t wait for the story to end so that I didn’t have to read it anymore. On another note, it is always beneficial to contemplate the forces of society and the vile baseness to which we can all so easily return in rote survival mode. The book therefore leads to useful discussion about what the boys might have done differently, why the outcome was what it was, how the outcome is reflected in our own world, and how complex and multi-faceted the creation of civilized society and social norms really is.

AREAS FOR TEACHING:  character traits, cause and effect, author’s purpose, sequence of events, imagery, realism, allegory, metaphor

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: many — bullying, killing of an animal, intentional injury and killing of other boys

RELATED BOOKS: Dies the Fire by Stirling, 1632 by Flint, Islands In the Sea of Time by Stirling, War of the Worlds, Life of Pi, Hatchet by Paulsen, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Lord of the Flies (1990), Island of the Blue Dolphins (1964), War of the Worlds


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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