The Blurb On The Back:
Everything you need to know about climate change!
Join teenage activists Amy and Ella Meek on their mission to save the planet in this inspiring book, perfect for budding eco-warriors.
Be Climate Clever teaches young activists about the need to tackle global warning and cut carbon emissions. It shows kids what they can do to help and how to find their voice.
Along the way, Amy and Ella will share stories about their incredible journey from starting the charity Kids Against Plastic to winning the Pride of Britain Green Champion award.
BE CLIMATE CLEVER was released in the United Kingdom on 7th April 2022. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Amy and Ella Meek founded Kids Against Plastic in 2016 to tackle plastic waste. This informative book for readers aged 7+ (illustrated by Sarah Goodreau) uses interviews with campaigners and scientists to explain the science of climate change, debunk climate skeptic arguments while advising readers who want to become activists but I wish the Meeks had used examples (particularly failures) from their own campaign to motivate readers.
I’m usually quite cynical about books like this because while the issues they cover are incredibly important, they can all-too-easily come across as a lightweight exercise that’s more interested in developing and promoting the “brand” of the author than giving solid advice to readers. This book doesn’t go down that route (although I have one caveat to that, which I’ll come to later). Indeed, the Meeks go out of their way to bring other campaigners and experts from all around the world into the book by peppering it with mini interviews that deal with particular topics, e.g. what climate justice is, mental health and climate change, the science of climate change etc.
The book also does a good job of setting out the science and explanations for what climate change is and the impacts it can have (particularly pertinent given the heatwaves and drought that Europe and China endured in summer 2022). What impressed me though was that the book also goes on to tackle climate skeptic arguments head on, including looking at who climate skeptics are, reasons why they are opposed to climate change arguments and who funds them. The book also gives advice to readers on spotting fake news and the importance of questioning and verifying sources, which is so important in the internet age.
Each chapter is very short and although the Meeks are dealing with quite complicated subjects, they explain it in a way that is not patronising and is easy to understand (although saying that, I would suggest that some of the book may be a little above the understanding of 7 year-old readers and may be better suited to those aged 9+). Goodreau’s illustrations are solidly done, depicting the sisters and also consequences and elements of climate change and I’ll give the publishers kudos for the good use of layout here because they use different techniques like speech bubbles to help break up the subjects and make it more palatable.
Where the book does disappoint is in the final section when the Meeks move on to advising readers how to become campaigners and activists themselves. This is largely confined to giving advice on how to do videos and presentations or letter writing campaigns and although there are some good practical tips in there, given that the authors came to prominence because of their own campaigning, I’d have liked to have seen more from their own experience. In particular, when they tell readers to find something to focus a campaign on and research it, they could have explained how they came to settle on plastic. Similarly when they talk about how to start a campaign, they could have used examples from how they got started. More importantly, they could have also given examples of when they got things wrong, even if it was just the trial and error of learning how to shoot a video or working out who to address presentations to. It would have helped establish a connection between the authors and the reader while also giving reassurance that yes, people can make mistakes but they’re all learning opportunities. They would have also helped offset the slightly hagiographic foreword by Steve Backshall.
This criticism aside, however, I did think that this was a well put together book that gives a lot of important information to readers in a way that’s not patronising and easy to understand while also drawing in campaigners and scientists from around the world. On this basis, I think it’s definitely worth a look if you have a young reader who is interested in the environment.