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Review of Me and Marvin Gardens

king_me and marvin gardensstar2 Me and Marvin Gardens
by Amy Sarig King
Intermediate, Middle School    Levine/Scholastic    250 pp.
2/17    978-0-545-87074-0    $16.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-545-87077-1    $10.99

The middle-grade debut of YA novelist A.S. King (Still Life with Tornado, rev. 9/16) was bound to be a little weird — and it is. It’s also a smart, environmentally conscious underdog story with a lot of heart and a little sci-fi. Sixth-grader Obe lives with his parents and older sister at the edge of a massive housing development being built on land that once belonged to his mother’s family, the Devlins. Obe is an outcast at school, nicknamed “the hippie” and bullied by his former best friend Tommy’s new crew. While picking up trash from Devlin Creek, Obe spies a strange creature: “It was definitely not a dog. It was definitely not any animal I ever read about…What was this thing?” Obe soon befriends the “animal/
creature/monster/thing” and names it Marvin Gardens. Marvin’s favorite food is plastic, and its scat is toxic. When Tommy’s gang gets wind of the creature, Obe realizes it’s up to him to protect Marvin. Interspersed chapters flash back a century to the story of Obe’s great-grandparents (his great-grandfather “drank 175 acres of Devlin land”), helping contextualize events. To a person (and a creature), the characters are rewardingly complex. Through Obe, King asks the Big Questions (“One hundred years from now…would people live a different way — a way that helped the planet?”) alongside the smaller, more personal ones (can Tommy be trusted?) in a way that will likely have readers doing the same.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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