________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 6. . . .October 10, 2014


Justine McKeen vs. the Queen of Mean. (Orca Echoes).

Sigmund Brouwer. Illustrated by Dave Whamond.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
53 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $6.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0397-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0398-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0399-2 (epub).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Robert Groberman.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



“Is that why you make sure everyone knows you buy secondhand clothes? Because you want us to think you care more about the environment than we do? So you can think are better than people who aren’t green?”

“Well...” Justine, for once, didn’t have an answer.


In his series of Justine McKeen books, Sigmund Brouwer introduces readers to the likeable, determined character of Justine who is passionate about taking care of her environment. She encourages her friends to join her in taking care of local problems, like building a greenhouse out of soda bottles and putting stickers on windows so birds would not fly into them.

internal art     In this volume, Justine raises the idea of going to the woods to do species counts of flower buds, spiders, frogs and ants. Justine explains that the class will share the numbers with a national agency. If species numbers drop, it indicates an environmental problem. A new member of Justine’s class, Savannah, thinks the Justine is just bossy and refuses to help. In the story, Justine convinces Savannah that admiring and helping the natural world is fun and satisfying.

      Vocabulary in this book is appropriate for seven to nine-year-olds. Illustrations by Dave Whamond every three to four pages help to confirm understanding for young readers. At the end of the book, author Brouwer suggests apps and websites for observing wildlife in its natural environment.


Robert Groberman is a grade one teacher at Katzie Elementary School in Surrey, B.C.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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