April 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel

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The City of Ember: The Graphic NovelDUPRAU, Jeanne. The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel. adapted by Dallas Middaugh. illus. by Niklas Asker. 144p. Random. 2012. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86821-4; PLB $21.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96821-1; pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86793-4; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-307-97910-0. LC 2011051619.
Gr 5-8
–Lina and Doon have spent their entire lives surrounded by darkness. Lina is an optimist and a dreamer who just knows there is something beyond the city of her birth. Doon is much more practical. He knows that if he can just get a good look underground, he can fix the city’s constant blackout problem. A chance encounter on Assignment Day allows the two children to meet and exchange jobs, essentially giving the other what they’ve always wanted. They start to unearth an evil plot by the city’s obese and greedy mayor to steal away precious resources from the people who live there. Using clues left behind by Lina’s late grandmother, they travel beneath Ember’s tunnels in a desperate attempt to find a way out. Based on DuPrau’s novel (Random, 2003), the story brings the city of Ember to life using many muted yellows and earth tones. While the interior vantage points from Lina’s and Doon’s perspectives make Ember’s public buildings and homes seem large, advanced exterior shots surrounded entirely in black give readers a sense of just how isolated Ember is. Lina’s wonder and Doon’s frustration are easily visible through Asker’s skill in detailing facial expressions, helping to visually elevate a story literally besieged by shadows. Dystopian stories can be dark, and this one is literally so, but its ultimately hopeful message will resonate.–Ryan P. Donovan, New York Public Library