For all those urgent themes and dangers, much of this hopeful novel portrays middle school antics and angst between PJ and her African immigrant friend Hakima, who are working on their environmental awareness school project. But PJ notices that any time someone speaks out about combating climate change, a coldness somehow manifests, and along the wall a dark, intimidating shadow seems to creep toward them. A letter addressed to PJ that her kindly retired postman neighbor had kept for the last 12 years sets in motion PJ’s destiny as one of a group of children around the world who will not be silenced by the darkness. Instead, she will speak for the children, animals, habitats, and cultures that will soon be extinct if we don’t stop the devastation.
Tween readers will relate to the schoolroom bullying, sibling rivalry, friendship dynamics, and desire to be special and valued, but will wait impatiently for PJ’s destiny to finally be revealed, and for resolution of the cryptic clues that keep their secrets hidden until the last quarter of the book. Nevertheless, the heartfelt message is in the right place that children must play an important role: to safeguard the future of the planet they will inherit.
Takeaway: A spunky tween delivers a message of hope for a world facing climate destruction.
Comparable Titles: Lauren James’s Green Rising, Mark Smith’s If Not Us.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-