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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Monster in the Water: Fighting Back Against Harmful Algal Blooms, written by Dylan D'Agate and illustrated by Maria DeCerce, is about a small coastal town called Seaville and the summer when everything changed. As the children race to the beach on the last day of school, they are met with a No Swimming sign, something they've never experienced before. The ocean is green and the marine life is either dead, ill, or dying, leading the local children to surmise there is a green monster taking over their shoreline. They reach out to a local scientist who examines the sample they deliver and finds a nutrient pollution that has led to harmful algal bloom. The children are not only receptive to the scientific information they receive but are also completely proactive in taking the steps necessary to reversing the issue. By the following summer the green monster is gone and the children are able to enjoy their time in the water.
What a fantastic educational tool Monster in the Water is, made all the more impressive given the age of Dylan D'Agate of sixteen. I would have never in a hundred years guessed this book was written by a teenager as it does an exceptional job of providing comprehensive eco-fiction in a manner that is easy for even the youngest readers to understand. This is a book my kindergartener has requested twice in the past six days as part of our bedtime routine and the fact that she can pronounce and define “eutrophication” at the age of five speaks volumes about the accessibility and ease with which a seemingly complex scientific phenomenon can be absorbed when presented by a gifted storyteller. She also liked the diverse cast of characters illustrated in full color by Maria DeCerce, bringing the narrative to life with children who look like her. As a parent, the best part of this story is the message of hope. Our environment is in a state of decay and to a child a reversal of any degree may feel impossible, but to see a community of children band together to make significant change is exactly the inspiration the next generation needs to get done what, until now, my own generation have been unable to accomplish. Very, very highly recommended.