To Change a Planet

"One person seems small, quiet, and insignificant," but two-time Newbery Honoree Christina Soontornvat (The Last Mapmaker; All Thirteen) gracefully illuminates how "when one person, and one person... become many" they "can change a planet." Soontornvat's sparse text packs a powerful punch and allows Rahele Jomepour Bell (Our Favorite Day of the Year) the space to construct sublime illustrations that deliver an equally effective blow. Author and illustrator tag team on their collaboration--in much the same way they encourage others to cooperate--and they deftly educate young readers about the lethal dangers of climate change.

Soontornvat's clean, straightforward prose about the global crisis makes this alluring picture book accessible to early readers. The heft of her message, though, has the potential to inspire all: "When many cars, many factories, and many cities let loose millions and billions and trillions [of carbon dioxide molecules], they trap and stifle, like a too-warm blanket." The cogency of Bell's mixed-media illustrations cannot be exaggerated. The blend of realism (heartbreaking polar bears) and metaphor (a blanket covering Earth) portray the text succinctly. Her striking colors, rich detail and lush textures pull readers into both the planet's beauty (a star-filled night sky) and its devastation (a raging wildfire).

To Change a Planet might be small and quiet, but it is anything but insignificant. Choice words and stellar art create the kind of reading experience that sticks with a person, that inspires one to believe they really can "change a planet." These pages will almost certainly breed future environmental activists. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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