Sunday, November 12, 2023

Waddle I Do Without You?

Schustmerman, Michelle. Waddle I Do Without You?
October 17, 2023 by Scholastic Paperbacks
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Addie lives with her fisherman dad on the coast of Australia, fifteen minutes from Perth. She's homeschooled, and is able to spend lots of time with her big dog, Max. She's involved in a group of kids called the Eco-Guardians who get involve in a variety of projects to protect the environment. When climate change causes the water near her home to be very low, local foxes are able to walk over to a small island that is home to a community of fairy penguins. Max seems to understand the danger the penguins are in, and wants to go to the island to protect them. In alternating chapters, we see the situation from Addie's perspective, as she tries to get her single dad to date her scuba instructor and works with the Eco-Guardians to protect the penguins, from Max's perspective as he gets to know the penguins and their situation, and the penguin Darwin, who has trouble communicating with the other penguins but has a keen sense of the danger that the foxes pose. Darwin tries to pose as a rock to escape detection, tries to cover himself in seaweed to be invisible, and also tries to hide in the sand, all to no avail. The Eco-Guardians build nesting boxes for the penguins, hoping that this will provide them with a safe space to hide, but the foxes are very sly and manage to infiltrate them. Addie and her friends look for solutions to the problem. After Max runs off in the night during a storm when he feels that the penguin colony is in peril, the idea occurs to Addie that dogs from the loval shelter can be trained to protect the penguins, giving them purpose and the penguins the protection they need to survive. 
Strengths: I will probably never travel to the coast of Australia, so this was a fun look at what life there is like. Addie's involvement with a local group is nicely contrasted with her homeschooling, and we see little glimpses of her friends' school life. (They have uniforms at Australian schools? Who knew?) There is a lot of good information about how to help the coastal turtles and penguins, as well as about dealing with dogs that are scared of storms. I especially appreciated that Addie (whose mother died when she was very young) wanted her father to date. There are also several interesting interactions with her father, who is very overprotective, about Addie getting some freedom, like being able to stay home alone. This is paired with examples of her impulsive behavior. This is such a huge deal in middle school that I wish we would see more books about children being allowed to walk to school, stay home alone, etc.  
Weaknesses: I would have liked this a little more if it had all been from Addie's perspective. Seeing things from Max and Darwin's point of view made it a little odd. 
What I really think: This will be a huge seller at Scholastic book fairs, along with this author's other animals related books like Somebunny to Love and My Otter Half. The covers are absolutely adorable, and whoever does the photoshop work on these should make sure to always use their powers for good and not for evil! 

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