In allegorical tribute to teen eco-activist Greta Thunberg, a child saves a forest from heedless pillagers.
When forest animals humbly come to Greta, a very small white child sporting braids and a yellow slicker, for help against the giants—“huge, lumbering oafs” who have destroyed nearly all the trees to build dark, smoky cities—she plants herself in front of the remaining greenery with a sign that says “STOP!” and waits for the giants to notice her. Soon she is joined by a brown-skinned little boy, then animals and other, diverse children, all bearing more signs…until in time the giants hunker down in embarrassment and promise to mend their ways. And soon “the forest became more beautiful than they ever could have imagined.” Using mostly warm hues, Persico places the towering giants and the crowds of sign-wielding, ankle-high protesters in mistily atmospheric settings that culminate in a double-page –spread “peaceable kingdom” scene. This Greta has a forthright look in accord with the polite tone of the colloquy (“We need to take care of our forest and live together. Will you please try?”), but she lacks the living one’s challenging, world-class stare. Moreover, the author’s closing observation that her tale’s happy ending hasn’t actually (or, optimistically, yet) come about in the real world is buried in an appended account of Thunberg’s campaign (to about mid-2019) and so may go unnoticed by younger readers.
Bland and tidy—but a good starter for discussions with budding activists. (websites, suggested activities) (Picture book. 6-9)