Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/01/2016 Sixth-grader Obe Devlin doesn’t run with the popular crowd. He’s more concerned with keeping his creek clean, finding rocks for busmate Annie Bell’s collection, and not having nosebleeds all over his clothes—a consequence of said unpopularity. Housing developments are rapidly, and upsettingly, encroaching on the acres of land that once belonged to the Devlin family, and Obe’s one friend chooses to hang with the new kids. On a routine creek visit, Obe discovers a capybaralike animal that only eats plastic, which he names Marvin Gardens. Obe keeps Marvin a secret until neighborhood vandals threaten the creature’s safety, prompting Obe to tap into his Devlin fierceness and take a stand. This is acclaimed YA author King’s first foray into middle-grade territory, and it’s no surprise that she adeptly handles issues like bullying, compromised friendship, complex family dynamics, and the tedium of homework. Obe’s connection to the land courses through the book and is firmly rooted in Devlin family history. Drawing upon the tradition of Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot (2002), this eco-focused story will tug at readers’ consciences and heartstrings. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2016 Gr 3–7—Eleven-year-old Obe Devlin lives in the Pennsylvania farmhouse his family built 100 years ago. Unfortunately, his great-great-grandfather mortgaged more and more of the acreage that surrounded the house to pay for his alcohol addiction. On the small portion of land on which the house sits runs a creek surrounded by a wild area. In the habit of picking up trash from the creek, Obe comes across what he is sure is a new species of animal—a creature with a snout like a boar's, a body and tail like a dog's (yet with no fur or hair), and slimy algaelike skin. Marvin Gardens, Obe's name for the creature because of his dad's love of the board game Monopoly, eats only plastic. Obe soon discovers his new friend's poop may be toxic to the land on which new homes are being constructed. Intermingled with the obvious environmental message are the topics of betrayal and bullying, gender expectations, consent, and true friendship. King writes from personal experience, crafting a coming-of-age novel with a fully developed and authentic protagonist. VERDICT An emotionally rich read for a wide audience, especially those interested in keeping the planet alive and well for future generations.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2017 Construction of several subdivisions on the field that Obe Devlin used to wander is bumming the sixth-grader out. He’s picking up trash out of the now-polluted nearby creek when a bizarre creature (some sort of dog/pig/tapir/amphibian-like thing) comes charging at him, fortunately not to eat Obe but to snack on the apparently delicious plastic bag he just picked up. A beautiful friendship is born between Obe, recently dumped by his best friend, and the creature he names Marvin Gardens, and Marvin’s plastic-eating provides a possible solution to the pollution that bothers Obe-until Obe realizes that Marvin’s scat is more toxic than anything the creature consumes. In this book for younger readers by well-known YA author A. S. King, the environmental message is mostly stripped of preachiness by Obe’s genuinely thoughtful, unassuming narration. His voice is deliberate and measured but still infused with humor and childhood wonder, and while he’s negotiating the waters of sixth grade with maturity, there’s an underlying anxiety both about the larger world and his place in it; King subtly sets up the parallels between the microcosm of middle school and the larger macrodynamics of society. She’s certainly nudging readers towards respect towards others and the environment, but she also makes it clear that it’s not always easy in practice-sometimes the apparent answer ends up pooping poisonous waste and now you’ve got a whole other problem to deal with. KQG - Copyright 2017 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.