Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet

Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet

by Barbara Dee
Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet

Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet

by Barbara Dee


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From critically acclaimed author Barbara Dee comes a “thought-provoking...wonderful” (School Library Journal) middle grade novel about a young girl who channels her anxiety about the climate crisis into rallying her community to save a local river.

Twelve-year-old Haven Jacobs can’t stop thinking about the climate crisis. In fact, her anxiety about the state of the planet is starting to interfere with her schoolwork, her friendships, even her sleep. She can’t stop wondering why grownups aren’t even trying to solve the earth’s problem—and if there’s anything meaningful that she, as a seventh grader, can contribute.

When Haven’s social studies teacher urges her to find a specific, manageable way to make a difference to the planet, Haven focuses on the annual science class project at the local Belmont River, where her class will take samples of the water to analyze. Students have been doing the project for years, and her older brother tells her that his favorite part was studying and catching frogs.

But when Haven and her classmates get to the river, there’s no sign of frogs or other wildlife—but there is ample evidence of pollution. The only thing that’s changed by the river is the opening of Gemba, the new factory where Haven’s dad works. It doesn’t take much investigation before Haven is convinced Gemba is behind the slow pollution of the river.

She’s determined to expose Gemba and force them to clean up their act. But when it becomes clear taking action might put her dad’s job—and some friendships—in jeopardy, Haven must decide how far she’s willing to go.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534489837
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 09/27/2022
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 548,783
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 640L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 13 Years

About the Author

Barbara Dee is the author of fourteen middle grade novels including Unstuck, Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet, Violets Are Blue, My Life in the Fish Tank, Maybe He Just Likes You, Everything I Know About You, Halfway Normal, and Star-Crossed. Her books have earned several starred reviews and have been named to many best-of lists, including The Washington Post’s Best Children’s Books, the ALA Notable Children’s Books, the ALA Rise: A Feminist Book Project List, the NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, and the ALA Rainbow List Top Ten. Barbara lives with her family, including a naughty cat named Luna and a sweet rescue hound named Ripley, in Westchester County, New York.

Read an Excerpt

1. Sensitive

Sometimes in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, I’d think about the time I lost my family in a bouncy castle.

It happened at a state fair—a million years ago, when I was like four or five. We’d all been bouncing, having a great time, when suddenly my big brother, Carter, said his stomach felt funny. I watched my family race out of the castle, shouting for me to follow. But I wasn’t ready to go, so I just kept on bouncing, all by myself.

Finally I stepped out of the castle to the flat, unbouncy ground, expecting to see Mom, Dad, and Carter.

Except they weren’t there.

No family.

For a second I froze, panicking. And then I started running.

I ran over to the Ferris wheel, then the roller coaster, then the ice cream stand where we’d all bought extra-large swirly cones an hour before. I ran over to a water-gun game where the prize was a giant stuffed Pikachu, then to the stage where some guy was playing a banjo, and past a lady in a cowgirl dress who was selling pies.

Somehow I made it back to the bouncy castle—and when I got there, my family was waiting. They looked terrified.

“Haven, what happened to you?” Dad yelled, and Mom burst into tears as she squeezed me tight.

“If you ever get separated from us, just stay put,” she scolded when she finally stopped crying. “Promise you won’t move around next time; let us find you.”

I promised. But I remember thinking how silly that was. I mean, of course I’d try to find them! Because staying put just seemed so helpless and babyish. I needed to do something, not stand there waiting, like a stuffed Pikachu on a shelf.

“Haven’s a true problem solver,” Grandpa Aaron used to say.

“Yes, but not everything is a true problem,” Mom would answer.

She’d talk to me about “learning to relax,” “having patience,” “accepting what we can’t control.” And Dad would talk about “enjoying the process.” About “good sportsmanship,” too, when I’d lose at Blaster Force 3 to Carter or miss an easy goal in soccer.

“Haven, games are not about the final score,” he’d tell me. “It’s important to just have fun.”

And I’d think: Okay, but what’s fun about losing? To me, things counted only when I knew how they added up, or how they ended. So getting to the end of something—the solution of a puzzle, the last chapter in a book, the final scene in a movie—was basically why I was doing it in the first place.

I didn’t try explaining this to Mom and Dad because I knew what they’d say: Haven, honey, you should try to relax—enjoy the process!

Although, to be fair, they didn’t only talk this way, and sometimes they took my side. Like they did last summer, right before seventh grade, when our family went camping at Lake Exeter. I’d never gone fishing before, so I was excited to go out on the water with Dad and Carter. I even caught a trout in the first half hour.

Except the thing was, until the very second I caught that trout, somehow I hadn’t realized that catching a fish meant killing it.

“Can’t we just throw it back?” I’d begged Dad.

“Come on, Haven, fish are food,” Dad had replied.

“Not to me! I’m not a fish killer!”

Because how could I have eaten this creature that was still twitching and staring at me, that just a minute earlier I’d felt tugging on my rod? I absolutely couldn’t. And I didn’t want anyone else to eat it either.

“Aw, honey,” Dad said to me. “Don’t worry, fish don’t have feelings.”

“How do you know that?” By then I was almost crying.

Carter groaned. “Argh, Haven, why can’t you just enjoy the lake! And being on this boat. You’re missing the point of this whole vacation!”

“No, I’m not! Because the point of being on this boat is killing animals!”

“That’s not the point at all! Why do you always have to make such a big deal about everything? And get so emotional?”

“All right, enough squabbling, you two,” Dad said. “You’ll scare off the other trout.”

“Good, I hope we do,” I said.

Right at that moment, without saying anything, Dad threw the fish back. If he was annoyed with me, he didn’t show it, but Carter did.

That night, as we ate a takeout supper back at our campsite, my brother announced, “I can’t believe we came all the way here to fish, but because of Haven, we’re eating ramen.”

“Carter, you don’t even like eating fish,” Mom said. “And you love ramen! We all do,” she added as she caught my eye.

Carter slurped some noodles. “Not the point. Haven’s so hypersensitive. She can’t relax about anything!”

“All right, Carter, you’ve shared your opinion; now let it go,” Dad said sharply.

Mom changed the subject, but I didn’t pay attention. Instead I was thinking how the lake was big, full of fish. Plenty of other people were still fishing. I’d saved the trout, but how much had I accomplished, really?

Plus I’d messed up my family’s vacation, and now my brother was mad at me.

So even though I tried hard to enjoy myself—and the last few days of vacation before seventh grade—it felt like I’d won and lost at the same time.

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