Me and Marvin Gardens

5 CDs. 5:59 hrs. Listening Library. Jan. 2018. $45. ISBN 9780525638131. digital download.
Gr 3–7—Sixth-grader Obe Devlin lives on farmland that's been in his family for more than a century. Over time, more and more land was sold to pay for his great-great-grandfather's drinking habit, and today, all the Devlins have left is a small parcel with a creek running through it. Obe loves the creek and he spends lots of time exploring, collecting rocks, and picking up trash by the water. It's by the creek that Obe discovers an entirely new animal. Marvin Gardens is the size of a dog, but he has hooves like a pig, a snout like a boar, and slimy, hairless skin. He also eats plastic. Obe excitedly nicknames Marvin the "pollution solution," but after discovering his poop is toxic, Obe decides to protect Marvin by keeping him a secret. In addition to themes of environmentalism and family tradition, King also explores the topics of bullying, loyalty, trust, and friendship. Narrator Kirby Heyborne deftly transitions from flashbacks about Obe's family one hundred years ago to Obe's present-day challenges about what to do with Marvin. Listeners will be drawn in to Obe's introspective ponderings, and they will root for this budding underdog environmentalist.
VERDICT This story of surprising friendships fits well with Earth Day celebrations or environmental and conservation units and will be a good fit for middle-grade collections.

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