Dystopian stories about how Earth’s environment will be unlivable in the future are plentiful. Chapter books for young people about what we can do now are few. Carl Hiaasen and Louis Sachar have successfully broached the topic, and now Amy Sarig King’s latest book, Me and Marvin Gardens, joins the list.
Told from 11-year-old Obe Devlin’s point of view, the story is immediately accessible as readers are drawn into his world. We understand Obe’s anguish as he watches the fields he played in become new housing developments. We sympathize with his efforts to keep the trash out of the little creek that still runs through his family’s property. When Obe discovers a strange new creature that eats plastic (he names him Marvin Gardens), we know that he and his best friend, Annie Bell, will find a way to share the secret, even if they are not sure of that themselves.
King (who writes award-winning young adult books as A.S. King) captures the heart of a young boy without making the prose too simplistic. Obe is a sophisticated storyteller but still a believable sixth-grader. Readers will find many interesting themes in this story—some subtle and some not so much—to discuss and wonder about for many years to come.
Jennifer Bruer Kitchel is the librarian for a Pre-K through 8th level Catholic school.