Thursday, February 5, 2009

City of Ember

The title of on article posted on Yahoo! today exclaims, “Antarctic Meltdown Would Flood Washington, D.C.” My first response was “well, I guess we’ll just have to move the Capital then.” I was slightly annoyed. “Do you think things always stay the same?” Given the context that cities around the world would be flooded at that point in time, moving the Capital would be one of the least of everyone’s worries. For those with a natural inclination for visualizing or long term planning, I suggest creating a folder on their computers or taking out pencil and paper and start noodling on this idea now.

In January I read the Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember, The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, and The Diamond of Darkhold. Three of the four books in the series take place in a post-apocalyptic society. According to, the reading level is 9-12 year old and, the series is aimed at the 10 to 14 year old group. This is all rather deceiving. Adults could benefit from the series just as much as kids.

I told my 84 year aunt about the books, and we wondered whether they were good for children. “Won’t they worry about their future? Won’t they have nightmares?” Yet in the days since I have read the books, some of the “take home” messages have been floating around in my head. “We make a lot of assumptions about the future, thinking it will be more or less like the present.” “In all probability, one way or another, the world will probably change radically in the next generation or so.” “People are resourceful.”

Change is a given. Radical change is highly probable. The sooner we can accept that, the sooner we can move on to working from an attitude of resourcefulness. Lina, the little girl in the Ember series, kept on drawing her vision of a city of lights. This is DuPrau’s message of hope to tweens and adults alike. It can give people a context when reading about predictions for the future.

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