When Artemis Sparke has had it with humans, she heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants and mollusks who don’t make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it. But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the salt marsh is dying. Artemis discovers that the historic hotel where she lives with her mom may be part of the problem, but speaking up would mean confronting the cranky hotel owner who happens to be her mom’s boyfriend and boss. Artemis conjures up help from deceased ecologists, and as she works to untangle their clues, she finds family secrets that could be the key to saving the salt marsh but also may destroy her life as she knows it.
The setting of Long Island Sound off the coast of Connecticut brings the issue of saving our environment to the forefront. The third person narration follows Artemis as she becomes more worried by what is happening.
The only other person that seems to care is a neighbor lady. Even Art’s best friend, Warren, is a bit skeptical. Also not always on Art’s side is a mom who is a maid at the hotel and is separated from the dad, He makes brief appearances when his busy writing schedule allows.
This leaves Artemis searching for solutions which she finds in the form of friendly ghosts at the hotel. The 152 pages move along at a nice pace and are a welcome break from today’s more typical 300 page MG novels. An epilogue ties together all the questions about what eventually occurs with the Sound Seekers Brigade’s efforts.
Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade is a welcome addition to the shelf of environmentally themed books for middle graders. The release date is Feb. 2nd which coincides with International Wetland’s Day.
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: ARTEMIS SPARKE AND THE SOUND SEEKERS BRIGADE
- Artemis has a sweet personality readers will like. She is focused and passionate toward her quest while dealing with being a kid around adults who have opposing views.
- Stuttering can be an overwhelming obstacle in growing up. Artemis’s stutter never overshadows the environmental aspect, but their is a hint of help in her future.
- Warren has his own problems at home and that is often the reason he is not always behind his friend 100%. Thankfully, his story also gets a hopeful change in the final pages.
- An inspiration to readers who want to push forth with conservation in their own communities.
- A nice balance of realistic and speculative fiction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly Behre Kenna
After years as an adolescent and family counselor, and then as a fifth grade teacher of ecology and language arts, Kimberly returned to school for her MA in creative writing from Wilkes University. Her middle-grade novel, “Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade” was a finalist and received Honorable Mention in the 2019 Tassy Walden New Voices in Children’s Literature Competition. It will be published by Fitzroy Books 2/2/23. Another book in her Brave Girl Collection, “Jett Jamison and the Secret Storm” is forthcoming from Black Rose Publishing 8/3/23. A third in the collection, as yet unpublished, won second place in The Institute of Children’s Literature 2022 MG Mystery First Pages Contest. Her poems and short stories have been published in American Writers Review, Mused, Plumtree Tavern, and Rubbertop Review. Her full-length play, “Ana’s Hummingbird,” was given a staged reading at The Dramatists Guild in NYC. She’s a member of SCBWI and PEN America, and now devotes herself to writing full time
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