________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 35. . . May 19, 2017


Justine McKeen, Thermostat Chat (Orca Echoes).

Sigmund Brouwer. Illustrated by Dave Whamond.
Victoria, BC: Orca, March, 2017.
68 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $6.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1201-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1202-4 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1203-1 (epub).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Christine McCrea.

** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



“MEL is short for miscellaneous electric load,” Jimmy quickly said.

“Miss what?” Michael said.

Jimmy signed. “Miss. Ull. Lane. Eee. Us. That means a bunch of something. In this case, a bunch of things that are constantly drawing small amounts of electricity when we aren’t using them.”

“Miscellaneous electric load,” Sadfar said. “I knew that.”

Jimmy said, “Sure. You knew they were things like computers and microwaves and doorbells and home entertainment centers and printers and stuff like that.”

“Keep going,” Justine said to Jimmy. “I’m proud of you.”

“MELs can use up to fifteen percent of an energy bill,” Jimmy said. “For a school like ours, that can be twenty thousand dollars a year. And if every school and home cut down on MELs, it would be huge in the fight against man made global warming.”


Justine McKeen is a rather precocious girl who is determined to help the planet by cutting down on excess electricity use. Her mission: to reduce the amount of MELs (or miscellaneous electric load) being consumed. This involves unplugging appliances like DVD players, microwaves and computers at night.

     In an attempt to encourage her friend Jimmy to cut down on MELs in his home, Justine shows up at his house at 3:00 a.m. with her Gram in tow. Much to the surprise of Jimmy’s sleepy grandpa, Justine prowls the house like an unsung superhero, saving the unsuspecting occupants from their excessive electricity use.

     Justine is also keen to convince Principal Proctor that the school can save thousands of dollars by cutting down on MELs overnight. Using her astounding powers of persuasion, Justine convinces Principal Proctor to purchase an energy monitor. After measuring consumption for five days, Justine and Jimmy tour the school in the evening to shut off anything that drains electricity. Their plan is to compare overnight electricity usage to normal consumption. Too bad the custodian, Mr. Barnes, decides to hook up his electric guitar and amp that very night!

     Justine McKeen, Thermostat Chat is a wee bit didactic, and many children will have a hard time following its explanations about electricity consumption and energy bills. In fact, the book will likely only appeal to kids who have adopted the “go green” ideology. If parents or teachers are interested in teaching kids about overuse of electricity, this book will be useful.

     Justine McKeen, Thermostat Chat is an easy chapter book, and despite its message about preservation of the environment, it also provides kids with some funny and silly scenes. The black and white illustrations add a sense of fun to the text, especially the drawing of custodian Barnes in his KISS outfit. This is the eighth book in the “Justine McKeen” series.


Christine McCrea is a children’s librarian at Richmond Public Library in BC.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Next Review | Table of Contents For This Issue - May 19, 2017
CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive