Tuesday, May 18, 2021

STEM Tuesday- One Small Hop

Rosenberg, Madelyn. One Small Hop
May 18th 2021 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In a future world where climate change has accelerated, wiped out many coastal towns, polluted the water, and killed off many species of animals, Ahab (otherwise known as Jonathan) has to hear his father's stories of being able to shower as long as one wanted, eating meat, and being able to bike across the wilderness of Canada with friends. His father also has an SUV in the garage, but he's only allowed to drive it in parades. Ahab is very interested in environmental issues, but is aggrieved that the Environmental Police Force is more corrupt than helpful. When his friend Leo finds a live lobster, Ahab and his friends Davy, and Delphinium rush over to see it before the EPF, headed by the bully Derek's father, can get ahold of the creature. They are too late, but when they press Leo about the location where the animal was found, they find a mission. Traveling in a school project reproduction of a dug out canoe, they end up on a small island where the temperature is lower and they hear an odd sound. Ahab falls in the water, which is toxic, and has to get home to shower, even though that still leaves him prey to thimble jellyfish larva, or sea lice, that leave him with itchy welts. When the group goes back, they find a bullfrog. Knowing that this animal is all but extinct, they try to find information on line, and find a person who goes by the name of Mole Rat who has a female bullfrog and is willing to try to mate the two. Can the children find a way to get to Canada? A harmonic convergence of the father's past trip, technology that allows the parents to check on the kids on the road, and Ahab's older sister Juliette's offer to chaperone allows the group to spend their spring break sneaking over the border to Canada with Alpha, the bullfrog. Once there, they find that Mole Rat is a boy about their age. Simon is very interested in environmental issues, and has raised many kinds of plants and animals. The kids don't want to leave Alpha with him, even for a lot of money. But is it the right thing to do? Ahab has found out a lot about his father's environmental interest as a child, and wonders why his father now has given up even trying to make an impact. The group runs into trouble on the return journey, but this difficulty brings about some surprising results. 
Strengths: One of the most frequent requests I get is books that have a STEM connection, so that science teachers can read them with their classes. This is absolutely perfect, and even better than Hiaasen's Hoot, to which it is compared. I love the slightly futuristic dystopia, which felt like it was set about thirty years in the future, when today's middle school students might have children of their own. The ensemble cast works well, and Juliette is a great addition to the group, since she's somewhat interested but really wanting to escape from high school drama at home. There is a lot of information about plants, animals, and climate change, and the description of indoor "outdoor" areas was chilling. I can see this being a great way to start a conversation about how doing lots of small things to save the environment can add up! The best part? This is a fast-paced, funny book that has plenty of slightly gross humor. Very much enjoyed. 
Weaknesses: I wasn't a fan of the names Ahab or Delphinium, and wasn't entirely convinced that the EPF would be evil, although Rosenberg certainly writes some convincing reasons for why the government wasn't effective in stopping climate change. 
What I really think: This is a must have for every middle school and elementary library, and I am definitely recommending it for my science teachers as well! Need to remember which grade does the virtual frog dissection-- this would be a perfect accompaniment!

Ms. Yingling

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