________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 18 . . . . January 15, 2016


Justine McKeen, Bottle Throttle. (Orca Echoes).

Sigmund Brouwer. Illustrated by Dave Whamond.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
71 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $6.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0731-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1041-9 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1042-6 (epub).

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Robert Groberman.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"If I can convince my class to give up bottled water, will you let us have a chance to convince the rest of the school to do the same?"

He thought about it. "Give me three good reasons why we should keep bottled water out of our school."

"It's like paying $300 a gallon for gasoline," Justine said.

"What?" His eyebrows went really high on his forehead.

In this seventh book in the Justine McKeen series, author Sigmund Brouwer gives his young environmentalist character the cause of replacing her school's vending machine water with tap water and metal cups. It is a tough sell because the new principal and even Justine's friends are adamant that bottled water tastes better and is better for you.

      In the body of the story, readers learn through Justine's well-researched argument that bottled water is mostly bottled tap water, that plastic bottles can contain bacteria, and that even spring water has to be trucked to where it is sold, adding to emissions pollution. In a taste test, students cannot tell the difference between tap water and bottled water.

      The tap water wins out, and the new principal gains respect for Justine and her ability to explain herself and fight for what she believes in.

      Illustrations by Dave Whamond provide descriptive and humourous additions to help young readers to comprehend and enjoy this novel.

      In the final chapter ofJustine McKeen Bottle Throttle, author Brouwer provides the reader with the story's sources for the evidence presented. This inclusion demonstrates Brouwer's respect for the reader, as young as seven, and underlines that his character should not be taken at face value because what Justine says in the story about the environmental damage caused by plastic water bottles can be researched independently by the reader.


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

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

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