After writing her first two novels documenting Lina and Doon’s adventures out of Ember and into the new world, author Jeanne DuPrau visits the pre-Disaster world 50 years prior in her novel The Prophet of Yonwood. In this third installment of the Ember series, DuPrau takes us to the small town of Yonwood, North Carolina. Our Protagonist is 11-year-old Nickie, a visitor to the town of Yonwood during a time of tumultuous world events as well as strange events within the town. Nickie’s great-grandfather has just passed away, leaving behind a mysterious old house packed with possessions. The house intrigues Nickie, a precocious and curious young girl, who quickly decides that her family should keep the house and make Yonwood their home. But Nickie has yet to discover the secrets of Yonwood.
As Nickie’s aunt Crystal sets to work preparing the house for sale, Nickie sets out to discover as much as she can about Yonwood, encountering many interesting characters along the way. These characters include: Mrs. Brenda Beeson, a stern rule-abiding woman who believes that Yonwood can be saved from the troubles of the world so long as everyone follows the rules; Amanda, a teenager on her own, making a living as a caretaker; and the Prophet, Althea Tower. At the time our book takes place, the world is in crisis with the possibility of a nuclear war on the horizon. But Althea Tower has had a vision about the war filled with such great horror that its caused her to become bed-ridden while mumbling odd rules. Mrs. Beeson convinces the town that the rules must be followed exactly so that Yonwood can be saved from this terrible fate. Nickie also wants to do something good for the world and thinks Mrs. Beeson may be right… until she starts to question the prophets vision.
The Prophet of Yonwood is a fantastic book filled with mystery and adventure. Although it is part of the Ember series, the book takes away from the time of Ember to ask the question ‘how did it all begin?’
Pages – 289
Lexile – 760
Grade Level Interest – 4th -8th
Although this book could tie in well with 8th grade U.S. history curriculum, allowing students to ask questions about conflict and resolution between warring nations as well as civilization development, there are many explicit references to religion throughout the book. Depending on the population of your learning environment, the religious aspects touched upon in this novel may be an issue for some families.