I love kid movies, well, most of them. I enjoy being able to whisk off to a land of fantasy where good triumphs over evil without the awkward uncomfortable scenes of gratitutious violence and sex. I like to practice safe plot. I am a squeamish movie watcher. It’s true, I will admit it. Real life is tension-filled, and so after a tough day at work when I settle down to escape into a movie, I don’t want to experience even more tension–hence, I kick back with a good ol’ kids flick now and then. This is how I came upon The City of Ember.
The movie definitely wasn’t going for an Oscar ride, yet I embraced its quirkiness, and celebrated its ingenuity. Plus, it had Bill Murray as a villainous mayor. Good stuff. Liking the movie piqued my interest in reading it as a book. Of course the book is better than its movie counterpart; however, the movie had a visual quality than surpassed the book in many ways.
What I really embraced was that this is author Jeanne DuPrau’s first novel. Writing a book, having it published by a major publisher, and then getting a movie made from it. Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about, folks. My little hope-to-get-my-book-published-goal goes pitter pat with hopefulness at this kind of success story.
Curious as to what happened to the folks from Ember, I returned to the library for the sequel, The People of Sparks. I had to wait for the book! Hold requests equal popularity, and increased the anticipation factor, especially considering the sequel came out in 2004.
The sequel takes up right after The City of Ember. While the first book shows its strength in originality, the sequel proves up the ability to take an old theme, xenophobia, or the old “us vs them” idea, and puts a different spin on it. DuPrau presents an allegory, in a way, with her sequel. The idea of how history can repeat itself if we aren’t careful is woven throughout her story. This theme is prevalent in the following passage: pages 75-76
“You don’t know about the Four Wars?”
“No. War–what’s that?
“A war is when one bunch of people fights with another bunch, when both of them want the same thing. Like for instance if there’s some good land, and two groups of people want to live there.”
“Why can’t they both live there?”
“They don’t want to live there together,” he said, as if this were a stupid question. “Also, you could have a war because of revenge. Say one group of people does something bad to another group, like steal their chickens. Then the first group does something bad back in revenge. That could start a war. The two groups would try to kill each other, and the ones who killed the most would win.”
“They’d kill each other over chickens?”
War, in all its complications, is brought down to the question of killing over chickens. Isn’t it amazing how kid lit can teach lessons that all adults could benefit from?