Inventive and intrepid Justine McKeen, most likely a grade schooler, finds amusing ways to make classmates and community members more environmentally conscious.
School bully Jimmy Blatzo takes an immediate dislike to Justine after she fishes his carelessly discarded soda can out of the cafeteria trash. In retribution, he squashes her lunch flat and steals her brownies, not realizing they’re flavored with crushed crickets and intended for a science presentation. Aided off and on by her sidekicks, Safdar and Michael, she creates posters out of homemade recycled paper, constructs a greenhouse out of 1,500 soda bottles, and shames a local merchant into being more environmentally friendly. Simultaneously, she gradually defuses Blatzo’s anger and turns him into a reluctant ally. While none of the cardboard characters feature significant development, Justine is feisty enough to add some flavor to the mix. Her environmental efforts seem oversimplified and too easily accomplished, though. Brisk, very brief chapters are accompanied by lively full-page black-and-white illustrations. To complete the environmental package, the book is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as being from “responsible sources.” Endnotes provide suggestions for environmental projects included in the story, but they don’t mention particular websites.
While brief paperbacks for newly independent readers are too numerous to count, this one is slightly funnier and fresher than most. (Fiction. 7-9)