By Carla Gunn
Published by Coach House Books
Reviewed by Martha Beach

Phineas William Walsh is nine. He lives with his mom. He likes to dance to the Celtic happy music with his mom, not that it happens very often any more. Phin also seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of plants, animals, and the natural world. He can tell you anything you want to know about frogs, dogs, whales, the endangered species list, ants, and much more. He has thousands of facts that he could recite off the top of his head and he understands the workings of nature and the planet better than most adults.

But what Phin doesn’t understand is why his dad left and rarely comes home, why he isn’t allowed to watch The Blue Channel, why his grandfather died, or why that waste-of-space Lyle has to pick on him every day at school.

To make all that not-understanding even worse, Phin is worried sick about the future of the planet and what humans all over the world are doing to the plants, animals, and land around them. He doesn’t understand why the rest of the world isn’t loosing sleep because a quarter of all of earth’s animals are on the Red List of Threatened Species. To top it all off, his fourth grade teacher surprises the class with a new pet: a White’s Tree Frog! So now, Phin has to worry about how to rescue and free this poor little frog that is all cooped up in a class aquarium.

This novel is gripping, extremely sad, and hilariously funny. As the story progresses, you are drawn more deeply into Phin’s many turbulent worlds filled with worry, love, hatred, and good intentions. It’s the story of a young boy who is trying to balance the lightness and darkness in his own world, all the while trying to save the whole world.

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