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On Sale: August 26, 2008
Pages: 304 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89244-8
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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Read by Katherine Kellgren
On Sale: August 26, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7393-6818-3
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On Sale: August 26, 2008
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

It’s been several months since Lina and Doon escaped the dying city of Ember and, along with the rest of their people, joined the town of Sparks. Now, struggling through the harsh winter aboveground, they find an unusual book. Torn up and missing most of its pages, it alludes to a mysterious device from before the Disaster, which they believe is still in Ember. Together, Lina and Doon must go back underground to retrieve what was lost and bring light to a dark world.

In the fourth Book of Ember, bestselling author Jeanne DuPrau juxtaposes yet another action-packed adventure with powerful themes about hope, learning, and the search for truth.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

In the village of Sparks, the day was ending. The pale winter sun had begun to sink behind a bank of clouds in the west, and shadows darkened the construction field behind the Pioneer Hotel, where workers labored in the gloom. Winter rains had turned the ground to a soup of mud. Stacks of lumber and piles of bricks and stones stood everywhere, along with buckets of nails, tools, old windows and doors, anything that might be useful for building houses. Though the daylight was almost gone, people worked on. They were trying to accomplish as much as possible, because they could see that a storm was coming.

But at last someone called, "Time to quit!" and the workers sighed with relief and began to pack up their tools.

One of the workers was a boy named Doon Harrow, thirteen years old, who had spent the day hauling loads of boards from one place to another and trying to measure and cut them to necessary lengths. When he heard the call, he set down the rusty old saw he'd been using and looked around for his father. The workers stumbling across the field were no more than shadowy figures now; it was hard to tell one from another. Ahead of them loomed the hotel, a few of its windows shining dimly with the light of candles lit by those too young or old or ill to be outside working. "Father!" Doon called. "Where are you?"

His father's voice answered from some distance behind him. "Right here, son. Coming! Wait for--" And then came a sound that made Doon whirl around: first a shattering crash, and then a shriek of a kind he'd never before heard from his mild-mannered father.

Doon ran, squelching through the mud. He found his father sprawled on the ground beside a broken windowpane that had been leaning against a pile of bricks. "What happened?" Doon cried. "Are you hurt?"

His father struggled to his knees. In a hoarse, strangled voice, he said, "Tripped. Fell on the glass. My hand."

Others had gathered now, and they helped him up. Doon took his father's arm. Enough light remained in the sky for him to see what had happened: the palm of his father's hand was sliced open, gushing blood.

One of the men standing nearby tore off his shirt and wrapped it around the wound. "Make a tight fist," the man said.

Doon's father curled his fingers, wincing. Blood stained the shirt.

"We have to get to the doctor," Doon said.

"Yes, that cut needs stitching up," said the man who'd given his shirt. "Go quick, and maybe you can make it to the village before it rains."

"Can you walk, Father?" Doon asked.

"Oh, yes," said his father in a weak voice. "Might need another . . ." He trailed off, holding out his hand, and Doon saw that the shirt wrapped around it was already soaked with blood.

"Ice would slow the bleeding," someone said. "But we don't have any."
A woman took off her scarf and passed it to Doon, and another man ripped strips of cloth from his shirt. Once the injured hand was wrapped in these, Doon and his father started across the field.

"You'll need a lantern!" cried a boy--one of Doon's friends, Chet Noam. "Go on ahead. I'll get one and catch up with you."

They walked as quickly as they could, but it seemed unlikely they'd avoid getting wet. A few raindrops were already drifting down. Doon felt their light, cold touch on his face. Rain had become familiar to him by now. Since he and his people had arrived here in Sparks from the city of Ember, where sun and rain alike were unknown, four rainstorms had swept over the land. The first had terrified the people of Ember, who thought something dreadful had gone wrong with the sky.
A voice called to them from behind, and Chet came running up. "Here," he said, handing Doon a lantern made of a can punched with holes and containing a burning candle. "And listen," he added. "A roamer has arrived, wanting shelter at the hotel. Tell people that if the rain stops, there'll be trading in the plaza tomorrow morning."

"All right," said Doon. He and his father turned again toward the town and hurried on. "Is the pain very bad?" Doon asked.

"Not too bad," said his father, whose face was unnaturally white. "It is bleeding a lot."

"Doctor Hester will know how to stop it," Doon said, though he wasn't sure of that. The doctor did the best she could, but there was a great deal she couldn't cure.

They passed a grove of trees thrashing in the wind. Behind the trees, a little distance off the road, a tall building loomed. A patch of blackness showed where a section of its roof had fallen in.

"They still haven't fixed it," said Doon as they went past, but his father didn't even look up.
The damaged building was called the Ark, the place where the people of Sparks stored their food supplies. The first rainstorm of the winter had been too much for one of the many rotten spots in its roof. Beams and chunks of tile fell inward. Shelves toppled. Jars and crocks broke and spilled, sacks of grain tore open, and rats got to the food before the cave-in was discovered. Even to begin with, there had been barely enough food stored in the Ark to get everyone through the winter. After that storm, a great part of the food was ruined.

"Father," Doon said. "Press your hurt hand tight with your other hand. That might keep it from bleeding so much." His father nodded and did as Doon said.

The rain came harder. In the last rays of evening light, Doon saw the lines of water like silver pins in the air. He put up the hood of his jacket, shivering. When he was faced with troubles, Doon usually looked for solutions and took action. But tonight he was feeling disheartened. So much about the winter in Sparks had been hard. People were ill with coughs and fevers, and some of them had died; they were hungry nearly all the time; and there had been one accident after another. A candle flame caught a curtain and set a house on fire; a toddler wandered outside at night, fell into the river, and drowned; there was the hole in the Ark's roof; and now this gash in his father's hand. Misfortunes came from every direction, it seemed, and Doon could see no way to make things better.


From the Hardcover edition.
Jeanne DuPrau

About Jeanne DuPrau

Jeanne DuPrau - The Diamond of Darkhold

Photo © RHCB

"What could be more interesting than thinking of mysterious happenings, finding the answers to intriguing questions, and making up new worlds?"--Jeanne DuPrau

Jeanne DuPrau has been a teacher, an editor, and a technical writer. The People of Sparks is her second novel and the sequel to the highly acclaimed The City of Ember. Ms. DuPrau lives in Menlo Park, California, where she keeps a big garden and a small dog.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

“When did you decide to be a writer?” people often ask me. Well, it was like this:

At about age 6, I wrote my first book, or at least the first book of mine that survives to the present day. It’s called “Frosty the Snowman.” It’s five pages long, illustrated with red and green crayon, and bound with loops of yarn.

My next extant work dates, I think, from the seventh grade. It’s a collection of stories handwritten on lined newsprint. One is about a merry-go-round that mysteriously flies off into the air. Another is about a girl who mysteriously disappears while ice skating. A third is about a seashell that mysteriously opens a door to an underwater world. It’s not hard to deduce that mysterious happenings were what I loved best at the time–a wardrobe door leading to Narnia, a rabbit hole leading to Wonderland, a nanny who flew away when the wind changed.

A year or two later, I started reading Dickens. I loved the world of Dickens’s novels, full of colorful characters and wildly complicated plots. I decided to write Dickensian stories myself. To prepare for this, I put together notebooks with headings on each page for character names, settings, plot ideas, and beginning sentences. I wrote pages and pages of great names (Ophelia Gordonswaithe, Hester Hollyhock), lists of settings (an insane asylum, a deserted railway station), and beginning sentences (“A sharp laugh broke the heavy silence”). I didn’t actually write very many stories, though. I think I wrote three or four, but only one of them went all the way to the end. The rest petered out after a couple of pages–or a couple of paragraphs.

But I kept at it. All through school, I wrote and wrote. Some of this writing my teachers assigned–book reports, college essays, my senior thesis. Some I assigned myself–stories, poems, journals, letters. After I graduated from college (an English major, of course), I did several different kinds of work, but they all involved writing and reading in one way or another. I taught high school English (and started a creative writing club for my students). I worked as an editor in educational publishing companies (and wrote stories for reading textbooks). I worked for a computer company (and wrote about how to use computers).

At the same time, after work, on weekends, whenever I could fit it in, I was doing my own writing. I wrote about people I knew, experiences I’d had, books I’d read, ideas that had occurred to me. I started sending these pieces of writing out into the world, and quite often they were published. I wrote a book, and then another book. The more I wrote, the more things I thought of to write about.

So the answer to the question, “When did you decide to be a writer?” is: Never. I never decided anything–I just wrote and kept on writing, because writing was what I liked to do. What could be more interesting than thinking of mysterious happenings, finding the answers to intriguing questions, and making up new worlds? Writers have a great job. I’m glad to be one.
Praise

Praise

"An electric debut. Lina and Doon’ search parallels the universal adolescent quest for answers.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred


From the Hardcover edition.

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