Friday, March 29, 2019
written & illustrated by Fred Koehler
288 pages; ages 8-12
Boyds Mills Press, 2018
I was captivated by this book from page one, when we're introduced to Archibald Shrew. He's pedaling through the waves on his newly-invented sea cycle - "a pair of plastic bottles, poked through with Popsicle sticks and tongue depressors like paddle wheels" with rubber band belts, a framework of plastic tubing, and propelled by a coiled spring.
Next best thing to having a shrew as a main character is having an inventive shrew. Until those inventions go bolly-wonkers and cause all kinds of trouble.
Fred Koehler's debut middle grade novel is the first in a new series. Take one garbage patch, add an assortment of animals that normally don't live together, and force them to coexist in a community. Toss in an enemy, a kidnapping, a spider invasion, and mix well with politics and you've got a recipe for a fun, adventuresome read.
This book makes you want to raid the recycling bin to invent your own machines. Hopefully it will shine a light on a serious problem: the Pacific garbage patches. And while there aren't any shrew communities living on those patches - at least none that we know of - you might want to learn more about plastic in the ocean and its impact on wildlife. This post from the Smithsonian Institution is a good place to start.
Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle , so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.