Global | Review
By Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin
Illustrated by Giovanni Rigano
Sourcebooks for Young Readers, April 2023
As I sit in my living room, I think of how my daughter wanted to go outdoors after school. As the school year winds down, homework is almost non-existent and daylight lasts longer, so this is usually an automatic yes, but I said no because of the air quality. I think of how the NYC Public Schools chose to go remote to minimize the time spent outdoors. How suddenly more and more masks were being worn. It felt timely to pick up this title that was already near the top of my reading pile.
Global is two stories. Both tell the tale of children living in deteriorating conditions due to climate change.
Sami lives in the Bay of Bengal in a remote fishing village. His parents died in a storm. His days are spent with his grandfather and are about surviving. Fish to eat (but there aren’t as many fish anymore). Maybe earn enough money to make repairs to their net and boat so that they can earn more money and perhaps their luck will change. But another storm always comes, and they are back to fishing, repairing, and starting over. Sami’s thoughts fixate on his mother’s lucky knife, which is stranded in the bottom of the ocean. He is certain this will change their fortune. His grandfather forbids him from diving for it, but Sami is determined.
Yuki lives in Northern Canada inside the Arctic Circle. The ice caps have been melting and the polar bears have been coming further inland. They have even mated with grizzly bears, creating a new breed called Grolars. Yuki sets out one day to find a way to convince people not to shoot the bears on site. But it’s a dangerous mission, and when she is attacked by a bear she gets turned around and lost far from home. With only her dog for company and no cell phone signal, she fights to survive and make it home.
At first, my thoughts were that this would be a didactic sort of story, but after a few chapters, I became engrossed in the action-packed storytelling and the vibrant artwork. The details in the panels were horrifying and eye-catching as the danger both Sami and Yuki faced was depicted. It’s worth a second read of just the artwork. The panels that zoom out and give a glimpse of the carnage severe weather has caused to the Earth juxtaposed with the closeups of Sami or Yuki’s near misses really do make for a heart-thumping adventure.
Having lived all my life in an urban setting I wondered how my students would react to the story. Ultimately, this is a great adventure story that has a message embedded inside. The book ends with a note from the author and has a few pages at the end that explain global warming. Even urban kids can understand the effects of global warming after this week.
Teachers looking for a class read should consider this title. (Pair it with Alan Gratz’s adventure Two Degrees.) We often gravitate to humanities titles that link history, but there are many tie-ins that teachers can make with science, social studies, current events, and other subject areas.
This is a worthwhile title to add to your shelf. It might need a bit of pushing for an independent read, but once readers open it, they will enjoy it.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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