Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Empty by Suzanne Weyn
I picked this little book up last week through the scholastics book order and it was probably the best purchase I have made in a while. Even though the book is only 182 pages long, it packs a big punch. Empty is a book I will be promoting as a read aloud to upper Junior/Intermediate teachers. For grade 7 teachers, this book ties in so nicely with science (Interactions in the Environment) and geography (Patterns in Physical Geography) units.
The book is set in the very near future in a town in the state of New York. Kids there range from the rich and privileged to average middle class to kids with families struggling to put food on the table. Empty follows a teenager from each of these situations.
In the future, fossil fuels have run out. The cost for filling up a car is out-of-reach for most, but there aren't any other options for transportation. The lack of fossil fuel doesn't just mean no gas it also means other products that use oil (which is a surprisingly large list) become hard to obtain and very expensive. As a result of the cost of gas, grocery stores are having a hard time stocking food, especially food that needs to be transported across the country.
The three main characters, Tom, Gwen and Niki are very real characters. They are typical teenagers, very focussed on themselves and how things affect them personally. Yet, they all deal with the lack of supplies and cost of living in very different ways and with very different attitudes.
There are some really great messages throughout this book. I want to read it aloud to my class so that I can discuss the topics, issues and ideas that are presented in the story. I think it will be a real eye opener for many kids, I know it has really made me think about how we are using the resources that we have.