Eleven year old Obe just wants to get outside into the world of nature where he belongs. His best friend, Tommy, has chosen one of the new kids in the neighborhood, to be his new best friend. Obe has one nosebleed after another as a result but no one does anything about it. The land his family owned for generations has been lost to strangers during hard times and now developers are taking one section after another and developing what used to be an orchard or a meadow filled with memories into new roads and houses. Obe and his family live on a small patch his grandmother was able to buy and protect.
It's tough being Obe right now. Just getting on the bus in the morning means facing Tommy and his new bully best friend Mike with their squad of followers. Being at school means facing the math teacher who hates him and the possibility of a nosebleed. Coming home means having to answer the questions about his math tests and playing Monopoly with Dad who cheats and always wins.
Two things are working for Obe right now. He has a good friend named Annie who rides the bus with him everyday and he has his love of protecting the natural space around his house. Obe goes out to pick up trash as often as he can and one day that mission leads him to a third good thing. That's the day Obe discovers a creature, a plastic devouring creature. He names it Marvin Gardens and their friendship leads Obe to a role in the world he never imagined. What can Obe do to make a difference in this world?
This is a story about our consumption of plastic, our never ending drive to develop natural spaces, greed, power, social ostracism and a grand failure to see our children for who they are rather than who we want them to be. This is the first time I have ever seen consumption used as a main character in a story for our middle grade readers. It's smart. It's deeply caring. It's a call to awareness and action on many, many fronts.
It's time to stop and take a look at the patch you live in. Are you filling it with plastic by what you do everyday? Do you even see the natural world around you? This story has a message for children that it is unfortunately possible that their parents are not only unaware of what our planet needs but might also be missing what their children need as well. Maybe the lifestyle we have chosen with all of its consumption, our disconnection from nature, and our focus on buying new shoes and new houses isn't really giving us the happiness we seek.
256 pages 978-0545870740 Ages 8-12
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
The first middle-grade novel from Printz Honor-winning author Amy Sarig (A. S.) King!
Washington Post Best Book of the Year A New York Public Library Best Book for Kids A Texas Bluebonnet Master List selection
Obe Devlin has problems. His family's farmland has been taken over by developers. His best friend Tommy has abandoned him. And he keeps getting nosebleeds, because of that thing he doesn't like to talk about. So Obe hangs out at the nearby creek, in the last wild patch left, picking up trash and looking for animal tracks.
One day, he sees a creature that looks kind of like a large dog. And as he watches it, he realizes it eats plastic. Only plastic. Water bottles, shopping bags... No one has seen a creature like this before. The animal--Marvin Gardens--becomes Obe's best friend and biggest secret. But to keep him safe from the developers and Tommy and his friends, Obe must make a decision that might change everything.--from the publisher
256 pages 978-0545870740 Ages 8-12