The People of Sparks

Common Sense Media says

A simple, clear look at the slippery slope to war.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

There is a strongly felt anti war message throughout this thoughtful examination of the path to war.

Positive role models

The heroes behave nobly: others behave very badly, deliberately inciting violence with lies.


A small riot, a mob confrontation, some fighting, firing of an ancient weapon that injures the user and ignites a fire.

Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this story lays out, in microcosm and in simple, easily understood steps, the path to war. Though the solution is a bit too convenient, this should provoke serious thought and lively debate.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Having emerged from hundreds of years in an underground city, the 400 survivors of Ember can't go back, but have no idea how to survive on the surface. Wandering for days, exhausted and hungry, they come across the village of Sparks. The people of this small village reluctantly agree to take in the refugees temporarily, just long enough to teach them to survive on their own.

But food is tight, the Emberites don't seem to know anything, and the villagers soon begin to resent having to take care of them. As tensions mount a mysterious series of acts of vandalism heightens the anger on both sides, until conflict seems inevitable.

Is it any good?


The first book, The City of Ember, was a fun but unexceptional story -- underground city is failing, children have to find a way out before it's too late. This sequel goes in a more thought-provoking direction. It traces, in a clear and reasonably believable fashion, the steps that lead otherwise decent people to war and, more simplistically, what decent people can do to stop it. It helps kids to begin to fathom some of what is going on in the world today.

Again it is the unassuming Lina and Doon who find the way, though both are initially led astray. But they share a common impulse to care for others, which propels them to find and take the difficult steps necessary to avert conflict. Unlike so many fantasies, this is not about good versus evil, but rather thoughtfulness and compassion versus unreasoning hate. And, as the author makes very clear, love takes a lot more strength and bravery than anger.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about war.

  • How has war affected Sparks and Ember?

  • How are greed and corruption leading to new conflict?

Book details

Author:Jeanne DuPrau
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House
Publication date:July 18, 2004
Number of pages:338

This review of The People of Sparks was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byTending Bloom April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Venturing into the sunlight....

This is the sequel to "The City of Ember". It is an interesting story of what it could be like after a whole world war. It shows 2 brave, young, people can be heroes in their own special ways. It also shows how only 2 people can cause a war but it takes only one to stop it. Very well written.
Teen, 15 years old Written bythomas25525 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Kid, 12 years old February 16, 2013

The People Of Sparks... an Auh-mazing Book

This book is truly amazing! I think Jeanne DuPrau who wrote this book,is a great author who can really know how to really wow people a lot. :)
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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