Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet

Aladdin. Sept. 2022. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534489837.
Gr 4-8–Middle grade author and tough topics expert Dee returns with a thought-provoking look at the very prevalent, but little known, issue of eco-anxiety and how it is affecting our youth. Seventh grader Haven Jacobs lives in the small town of Belmont with her family, and while she is hypersensitive worrying about climate change, she thinks she is alone in her thoughts. When her science teacher Mr. Hendricks announces the annual River Project to study the local Belmont River, Haven is excited to further the research that is compared and reported yearly. However, when Haven and her classmates find the river vastly changed from just two years ago (when her brother, Carter, did the project), Haven’s anxiety ramps up. The water has become more acidic, there are no more frogs, and Haven worries that Gemba, the new factory in town, could be to blame. Haven’s father works at Gemba, and Haven worries about what she suspects, as it may jeopardize her father as well as her friendship with Kenji, the son of the man running the company. Haven wants to make a difference for the planet, but feels her efforts can matter little.
VERDICT Dee has deftly brought the important topic of eco-anxiety to the fore, while developing a wonderful story about juggling normal middle school worries such as friendships, crushes, and sibling issues.

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