Monday, August 21, 2017
Me and Marvin Gardens, written by Amy Sarig King. Scholastic, 2017. $22.,99 ages 9 and up
Empathy is lacking in our lives; sharing books that build on how others are feeling about themselves and the world is just one step in making our world a better place to be. Through understanding and communication, we live a larger and more complete life.
"On the way to school, Annie chatting in my ear the whole way about how I was going to be famous, I thought about loners. Marvin was a loner - even with his family, he was still on his own. I was a loner. My dad was a loner and my mom was too. Even though they were married, they were married loners. Annie was a loner because people called her putrid and because of her backyard play prison. Even Tommy was a loner because he was stuck with a bunch of boys he didn't like but hung out with anyway. We were all loners because we felt like we had to do what someone else told us to do.
I wondered when we would just be able to do what felt right. I wondered when we'd be able to be ourselves and not be called names. I wondered when we could wear old sneakers. Middle school was coming."
I hope that makes you want to meet Obe, and Marvin, and Annie. I know you will like them! Obe is a very honest and capable narrator. He lives in a farmhouse that belonged to his great-great grandfather, who lost most of his land when his drinking problem got in the way. He sold it off bit by bit, until the only thing left was the small piece of land that surrounds the family home. Obe is a conservationist and spends much of his time cleaning up the creek that runs through the family's land.
While cleaning up trash one day, he meets a new animal never before seen. Obe names him Marvin Gardens and promptly falls in love with the very unusual creature. Marvin is a kindred spirit for Obe. He is friendly, loyal, and trusting. He eats only plastic. A new solution to an ever-growing ecological disaster? His poop is another issue altogether, and Obe must seek help. Obe realizes that he cannot only confide in Annie. He will have to alert the authorities in an attempt to ensure safety for Marvin and his family. It is the right thing to do!
This is a beautifully written story that is focused beyond the environmental. It also deals with bullying, friendship, failed expectations, anxiety, humor and wonder at the world.