The City of Ember

By: 

Jeanne DuPrau

Number of Pages: 

270

Minimum grade level: 

5th

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Pay attention to "The Instructions" before chapter one in the book. Keep remembering them as you read the book, and re-read them when you finish.
  2. Who do you think built Ember and why? When does the book happen?
  3. Why did Doon want to trade jobs? Why was Lina so happy to trade with him? How does Lina's new job really suit her? Describe Lina and Doon and the other characters you meet in the first few chapters.
  4. Describe the jobs the other kids get. What would you want to do, if you lived in Ember?
  5. Who takes care of Lina and Poppy? This changes during the story. How? How does the meaning of the words, "alone in the world" (p. 143) change for Lina? Do you have someone who looks out for you, or whom you look out for? What does Poppy and Lina's grandma and Poppy herself have to do with the finding of the "The box in the closet" and "The message full of holes?" Who are the people Lina shows the message to? Would you have chosen different people to share the message with, or a different order of the people Lina chose? Who and when?
  6. How would you have felt about sharing "Lizzie's groceries?" There are clues in this chapter that Lina puts together with Doon's "Dreadful discovery." What are they? Somehow, they still don't have the whole picture until Song Rehearsal Day. Can you imagine how you would feel in their place?
  7. In "Where the river goes," Lina, Doon, and Poppy display different reactions to their journey out of Ember. Do you identify with any of them, or would you have had a different reaction? How do the characters of Lina and Doon determine what happens in the book? Would you want them for friends?
  8. Do you think the ending of the book was realistic? If not, how would you have changed it? Does the ending fit with "The Instructions," at the beginning of the book?
  9. There is a sequel to  The City of Ember , called The People of Sparks. Do you think you will read it? Why o r why not?

If you liked this book, try

  • The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Tripods series by John Christopher
  • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
  • Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
  • His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.