On the first day of summer vacation, Maddy eagerly anticipates careless days, relaxing at the pool and hanging out with her friends. However, her life is turned upside down when she rescues a mutt from the heavily polluted stream behind her house. As she finds out, it is not a dog at all, but an alien ambassador named Ki, trying to find the cause of a terrible sickness that is plaguing his world. Maddy and Ki become environmental detectives, finding that the pollutants that have destroyed the stream are leaching across a temporal-spatial barrier and killing Ki’s home. The toxic chemicals’ source is the artificial grass manufacturing plant that employs most of the town, including Maddy’s mother, so Maddy and Ki struggle to find a way to save Ki’s planet as well as the town’s jobs. Maddy can’t tell anyone about Ki’s true nature, but needs the help of her friends, especially the cute science geek Alex; her developing feelings for Alex take a back seat as she accepts her role as underground environmentalist warrior.
This cute story about our responsibility to the environment was engaging, and not too heavy-handed or moralizing. For younger tweens the mystery of the polluting source has just the right amount of foreshadowing, and they will enjoy the descriptions of the alien creatures and how the protagonists outwit the evil corporate villain. I enjoyed the balanced approach that recognized the needs of the town workers as well as those of the alien planet. I was glad to see that the ultimate solution to both the town’s and the environment’s woes was to educate consumers on the beauty and ease of planting native plants, and forgoing their desires for a huge lawn of grass, although I wish this excellent solution had been more strongly emphasized. My only real complaint is that the story seems somewhat confused as to whether it is a clever, ‘one brave girl can make a difference’ romp, or a middle-grade romance: every time Maddy joins her teenage friends, she falls into blushing embarrassment. Still, Maddy is a smart, witty, problem-solving heroine; she is able to overcome her teenage insecurities as she finds her passion working for a greater cause. This book is a fun read with a good message and tween readers will enjoy this light introduction to the environmentalist cause.
|Page Count||161 Pages|
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