Friday, October 14, 2022

Two Degrees

Gratz, Alan. Two Degrees
October 4th 2022 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Climate change doesn't affect just one area of the world, and Gratz points this out by focusing on how weather patterns cause problems for three different children in very different areas of the world. Akira lives in the Sierra Nevada of California with her Swedish father and mother of Japanese descent, and gets caught in a wild fire while out riding horses with her father. He doesn't believe in global warming, and thinks that weather is just cyclical. In Miami, Florida, we meet Natalie, who lives with her mother and whose father lives in Cuba. A hurricane brings high winds and punishing rains that flood her house and send her out into the storm with her neighbor's dog, Churro. Finally, in Churchill, Manitoba, George and Owen head out on a snowmobile to spend the weekend at a family cabin only to run into problems with polar bears that are  more prevalent now that the area has become warmer. Should people be living in the area at all? Like Gratz's Refugee, this brings together the different characters at the end of the book, and is similar in tone in that it doesn't sugarcoat the horrors of the various weather events the children face. Akira is separated from her father but teams up with another young girl with a dislocated shoulder. The two are one step ahead of the fire, find Akira's horse in the swimming pool of an acquaintance's house, and see several dead bodies in burnt out cars. Natalie is also separated from her mother, has to escape another house that implodes, and while she meets several helpful people along the way, also sees dead bodies and the tremendous devastation of the storm. George is attacked by a polar bear, and the two have to deal with injuries and being lost as they try to get back home while avoiding more bears. The climate conference at the end shows how many children all over the world are affected by climate change, and is a rallying call for young readers to do what they can to stop global warming. 
Strengths: I'm a big fan of climate stories, since I've been walking to work for 30 years, mainly vegetarian,  and don't even have air conditioning. In order to motivate people to make as many small changes in their lives as possible, books that show the results of NOT making these changes are disastrous. My younger daughter became a vegetarian when her class read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in high school, so books can have a great impact! This was an action-packed tale with lots of details about what happens in the three different types of extreme events. Gratz does excellent research, has sympathetic characters, and writes stories that are hard to put down. 
Weaknesses: It was hard to go back and forth between the different stories; I almost wish this were a three book series similar to Gordon Korman's Dive and Island; there could even be a fourth book about the climate conference! I have a lot of reluctant readers who are more prone to pick up shorter books, and this would be somewhat similar to the very popular Gary Paulsen World of Adventure books if formatted this way. Strong readers who love this author won't care. 
What I really think: I will definitely buy a copy, since Gratz's work is very popular in my library, and I was glad to see that the same style of cover was used. This would make a great read for science classes looking for read alouds with STEM ties. 
 Ms. Yingling


  1. I am in the last 100 pages of this book today and can't put it down. I have been pondering how the how their stories will merge. First thought was a climate conference, which you allude to. Agree with you about the three rotating voices. But, that's Gratz's style. Kids will love this book! So timely with the hurricane and wildfires. Found myself drawn most to Akira's story.

  2. Anonymous3:34 PM EDT

    I'm very happy to see this review. I'd been wondering about it's inclusion in my science methods classes as well as how it may be useful to normalized discussions/feelings around the climate crisis. Your insights are, once again, most valuable! It's going on my 'need to buy' list!