Friday, March 24, 2023

Global Warning

Frank, Steven B. Global Warning
March 21, 2023 by Clarion Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
In this sequel to Class Action, we return to the world of middle grade oriented legal disputes, this time with more serious concerns. Sam is settling back into a routine and getting used to the fact that Mr. Kalman has moved to the NoHo senior living facility and his sister Sadie is off at college. Catalina and Jaesang are still around, and Alistair, while he's not busy cooking, is terribly worried about the environment. While visiting Mr. Kalman at NoHo, Sam meets Zoe, whose parents have passed away, so she's living with her grandmother. NoHo is a hopping place, and Mr. Kalman, reinvigorated by his reentry into law and politics, convinces Sam and the rest that they can use their notoriety to try to put through a court case suing the government for the problems in the environment. Since Alistair has a bit of a crush on Greta Thunberg, it's not hard to get everyone on board. Soon, they are traveling to Washington, getting legislation started, and even going to Norway. There, they attempt to take the international seed bank hostage in order to have the leverage to get their bill passed in the US. The group also works on every day things they can do to save the planet. Will it be enough?
Strengths: I love that there is a good amount of description about the fate of the ERA, although it broke my heart that there was a grandmother in a senior facility still wearing an ERA ball cap! Most middle school students have no idea what that is. Mr. Kalman really comes into his own in this book, really leading the charge and pushing the kids to take legal action. Sam is a character who struggles a bit with anxiety, but has coping mechanisms (an app on his phone, breathing exercises, etc.) and powers through his negative thoughts, which I would like to see in more #MGLit. This was sort of the legally motivated equivalent to Ben Ripley's antics in Gibbs' Spy School books. 
Weaknesses: There were a lot of details about the science and legal ramifications of climate change that, combined with the number of characters, occasionally made the story hard to follow. I was also a little personally uncomfortable with the seed bank plot. 
What I really think: It's good to see a growing number of books investigating environmental issues, like Gratz' Two Degrees, Firestone's The First Rule of Climate Club, Dee's Haven Jacob's Saves the Planet, Dimopoulos' Turn the Tide, and Guillory's Nowhere Better Than Here, and Global Warning certainly has a lot of legal information that budding lawyers will find interesting. It's one of those stories that I would totally have believed as a twelve year old, but which gives me pause as an adult, in the same way that Class Action did. I applaud Mr. Frank for being able to stay true to the middle school mind set more than I have been able! (He's a middle school teacher, which always gives a fresh perspective to middle grade novels.)

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