"Justine and her friends have so much enthusiasm for reusing and recycling...that readers of this book might find themselves looking for ways to recycle in their own lives. Illustrations by Dave Whamond convey the emotion and detail of the scene to help young readers to connect with what they are reading...Recommended."
"The characters are engaging and their dialogue is brief, humorous and 'kid-friendly.' Large black and white illustrations, comically drawn, enhance the action. This environmental topic is closely connected to the elementary curriculum and the text should prove useful to promote both discussion and ideas."
Children's Literature - Suzanne Javid
Her name is spelled J-U-S-T-I-N-E M-C-K-E-E-N. Justine McKeen, but call her the Queen of Green. She will not mind because Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is her motto. Justine and her friends are all about being green and helping the planet. From small acts every day, such as taking home ziplock bags from lunch to reuse to turning off lights not in use, Justine continually tries to make family, classmates and community more conscious of their environment. Leading a community initiative making a greenhouse out of empty soda bottles to mixing dried crickets with chocolate for cricket brownies, the Queen of Green even wins over the meanest guy in school, Jimmy Blatzo. Yes, the guy in the blue hoodie and please, do not ever call him a word that rhymes with Blatzo. Part of the "Orca Echoes" series, this book is one of fifty-three lively, entertaining short chapter books aimed at children in the middle elementary grades. A fun read for children who are early chapter book readers. Chapters are brief with full-page black and white illustrations throughout. The author includes Notes for Students and Teachers at the end of the book that give ideas and activities for extensions of the story. Many suggestions for student Internet use are given, such as searching specific words rather than specific sites to find more information. Although the information will likely vary in reading levels and navigation skills, it is important that adult supervision and monitoring be provided for children to fully and safely explore sites that may be found. Also helping the planet, the publisher notes they are dedicated to preserving the environment by printing the book on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Reviewer: Suzanne Javid
Inventive and intrepid Justine McKeen, most likely a grade schooler, finds amusing ways to make classmates and community members more environmentally conscious. School bully Jimmy Blatzo takes an immediate dislike to Justine after she fishes his carelessly discarded soda can out of the cafeteria trash. In retribution, he squashes her lunch flat and steals her brownies, not realizing they're flavored with crushed crickets and intended for a science presentation. Aided off and on by her sidekicks, Safdar and Michael, she creates posters out of homemade recycled paper, constructs a greenhouse out of 1,500 soda bottles, and shames a local merchant into being more environmentally friendly. Simultaneously, she gradually defuses Blatzo's anger and turns him into a reluctant ally. While none of the cardboard characters feature significant development, Justine is feisty enough to add some flavor to the mix. Her environmental efforts seem oversimplified and too easily accomplished, though. Brisk, very brief chapters are accompanied by lively full-page black-and-white illustrations. To complete the environmental package, the book is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as being from "responsible sources." Endnotes provide suggestions for environmental projects included in the story, but they don't mention particular websites. While brief paperbacks for newly independent readers are too numerous to count, this one is slightly funnier and fresher than most. (Fiction. 7-9)
Read an Excerpt
Jimmy Blatzo saw three large brownie squares in a Ziploc bag on the table. He grabbed the squares. "This is your punishment."
He pulled one out and crammed it into his mouth.
"May I have the bag back?" Justine asked. "Reduce. Reuse. Recycle."
"Not a chance," he said, chewing. He marched out of the cafeteria.
"That's too bad," Justine told Michael and Safdar.
"What?" Safdar asked. "That you just made enemies with the biggest bully in the school?"
"Or that he drank your juice, smashed your sandwiches and took your desert?" said Michael.
"No," said Justine. "That he took the Ziploc bag. I was hoping to use it for the whole school year. Plus, those brownies were part of my science project."