A lively coming-of-age story about caring for the environment.

WE HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!

A debut middle-grade novel offers a tale of child-centered climate change activism.

Quiet and broody Jenny Barajas takes a field trip with her classmates and their science teacher, Ms. Morgan, to San Francisco Bay, where they learn about the human impact on ocean waters and marine life. Jenny’s older sister, Jackie, is passionate about the climate crisis, but Jenny finds her patronizing, so she’s never paid much attention to what she says. However, after the field trip, Jenny begins to ask questions and do her own research regarding climate change, realizing that the problem is bigger than she imagined. With the help of Ms. Morgan, she urges her classmates to write letters to their congressional representative to vote yes on a plastic ban; she also documents how much recyclable trash is left outside the bins at school and discusses ways in which students can increase awareness about single-use plastics in their communities. Jenny also learns about how her parents moved away from their old neighborhood to avoid health risks associated with a hazardous recycling plant that polluted the water and soil. As Jenny gains self-confidence and independence, she begins to bond with and learn from her sister. Later, she leads her class in organizing an art show to raise funds so that more schools can embrace sustainability. Over the course of this novel, Myers successfully reveals the effects of environmental pollution, especially in underrepresented Latinx communities in Northern California. However, rather than representing Latinx people as a monolith, she ably addresses socio-economic disparities and differences in access to resources within Latinx communities, resulting in a diversity of characters with unique perspectives. The author also challenges the pitfalls of the educational system—particularly in terms of what educators consider to be important information—and captivatingly highlights the necessity of empowering young people, encouraging collaboration, and pursuing common goals.

A lively coming-of-age story about caring for the environment.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63988-033-1

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A kind and realistic depiction of living with autism that will educate and engage young readers.

THE WORRY KNOT

A middle-grade novel that focuses on the lives of a neurotypical middle schooler, his neurodiverse brother, and their classmates.

Rourke, the narrator, is starting seventh grade and feeling apprehensive about again being in the same school as his brother, Carson. Carson has autism, is fixated on stickers and keys, and is prone to seizures and unsocial behavior; as such, he’ll likely need assistance from others for the rest of his life. His condition makes him a target for bullies and draws heavily on family resources—particularly his and Rourke’s parents’ attention. Rourke has other concerns in his life, though, including a fascination with a new girl in school named Grace who clearly has secrets; she has strange bruises and scars, a stash of food in her locker, and impressive archery skills. Rourke also has an imaginary friend, Sam, who pops up whenever the boy is in trouble. The story notes some of the traits of Carson’s autism, including his need to focus on one task at a time and his struggles with reading body language and maintaining eye contact. The author also effectively explores the range of emotions that family members of people with autism have; for example, Rourke is reluctant to walk Carson to school even though he loves him deeply and wants to help him; he worries that his sibling has “no way to keep safe.” He also comes to realize that dealing with his own family’s issues might be preferable to dealing with those that Grace is facing. The writing style is appropriate for the target audience, and Rourke comes across as an emotionally aware but still immature teen. The weakest parts of the book, though, are the short, personal thoughts from various characters that start each chapter. While these give us insights into their minds and motives, readers may wish that these were shown through their actions instead of stated outright.

A kind and realistic depiction of living with autism that will educate and engage young readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-953491-31-2

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Immortal Works Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2021

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