HAVEN JACOBS SAVES THE PLANET, by Barbara Dee, Aladdin, Sept. 27, 2022, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 9-12)
A seventh-grader tries to save a local river in Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet, a new middle-grade novel by Barbara Dee.
Twelve-year-old Haven Jacobs can’t stop thinking about the climate crisis. In fact, her anxiety about the state of the planet is starting to interfere with her schoolwork, her friendships, even her sleep. She can’t stop wondering why grownups aren’t even trying to solve the earth’s problem — and if there’s anything meaningful that she, as a seventh grader, can contribute.
When Haven’s social studies teacher urges her to find a specific, manageable way to make a difference to the planet, Haven focuses on the annual science class project at the local Belmont River, where her class will take samples of the water to analyze. Students have been doing the project for years, and her older brother tells her that his favorite part was studying and catching frogs.
But when Haven and her classmates get to the river, there’s no sign of frogs or other wildlife — but there is ample evidence of pollution. The only thing that’s changed by the river is the opening of Gemba, the new factory where Haven’s dad works. It doesn’t take much investigation before Haven is convinced Gemba is behind the slow pollution of the river.
She’s determined to expose Gemba and force them to clean up their act. But when it becomes clear taking action might put her dad’s job — and some friendships — in jeopardy, Haven must decide how far she’s willing to go. —Synopsis provided by Aladdin
If you’ve ever read anything by Barbara Dee (Violets Are Blue, My Life in a Fish Tank) then you know how well she dials into her audience. And Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet is no different. In particular, Dee’s exploration of anxiety has a truthful weight to it that readers will immediately understand and relate to.
That doesn’t mean Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet is a heavy read. Dee doesn’t just explore anxiety but how to deal with it on smaller and larger scales. Additional themes of science, problem solving and friendship make this novel well-rounded.
Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet is a strong read that will especially appeal to kids who are concerned about climate change.
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