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Greta's Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Greta's Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet Book Poster Image
Accessible intro to Swedish teen climate activist's work.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Greta's Story provides an age-appropriate introduction to the topics of climate change and practical things to be done about it, as well as a testimonial to the use of social media, especially Instagram, to raise interest in your cause. There's also a good explanation of Asperger's Syndrome (although it's now called autism pectrum disorder) and how it's both a disability and a superpower for Greta. "People who suffer from Asperger’s often become interested in a particular issue and think about it obsessively without being able to let go. This is exactly what was happening to Greta … Her brain works in a slightly different way from most people’s." Supplements at the end of the book explain more about issues that come up in the story, and offer plentiful suggestions for further reading. In what may be a translation error, the book makes the obviously inaccurate statement that "A bus carrying fifty passengers releases less pollution than a car carrying only two,” when it probably means "less pollution per passenger mile."

 

Positive Messages

Strong messages of courage, determination, and not letting the fact that you're only one person discourage you from doing what you can to make things better. It's important to do thorough research and be sure of your facts before you speak. There are also practical tips about what you can do to reduce negative environmental impacts in daily life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In just over a year, Greta Thunberg's determination, hard work, and adept use of social media have propelled her from obscure kid to globally recognized icon in the fight against climate change. Greta's Story gives a good sense of who she is, why she does what she does, and why it matters.

Violence & Scariness

Climate change is presented as especially scary during the catastrophic fires that ravaged Europe (and elsewhere) in 2018.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Greta's Story: The Girl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet is an illustrated middle-grade introduction to teen environmental activist (and Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019) Greta Thunberg. It was first published in Italian and later in a growing number of translations around the world. The book offers a lot of age-appropriate information about climate change, being on the autism spectrum (which affected Greta's becoming obsessed with the issue), and how she used social media to bring worldwide attention to her cause. The pivotal event is Greta's deciding to cut school to bring attention to the issue of climate change. Parents may want to discuss if, when, and why this might be appropriate. The story, by Italian author Valentina Camerini, is translated  by Moreno Giovannoni and illustrated appealingly by Veronica "Veci" Carratello.  Supplemental sections offer links to Greta's online posts, information about climate change, and practical steps individuals can take to reduce their negative impact.

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What's the story?

GRETA'S STORY: THE SCHOOLGIRL WHO WENT ON STRIKE TO SAVE THE PLANET finds Swedish teen Greta Thunberg increasingly convinced of the potentially planet-destroying effects of climate change as catastrophic fires rage across Europe. She's soon studying up obsessively on the issue, trying to find something she can do to prevent global catastrophe, and shocked that politicians seem not at all interested. Inspired by the examples of U.S. civil rights activist Rosa Parks and, more recently, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who became gun control activists after experiencing a mass school shooting, she cuts school, parks herself at the school's entrance with a handwritten sign "School Strike for the Climate," takes a picture, and puts it on Instagram. Kids around the world see her posts and join the effort. Things take off from there.

Is it any good?

Italian author Valentina Camerini's accessible narrative introduces teen activist Greta Thunberg to a middle grade audience, addressing climate change, being on the autism spectrum, and social media strategy. Greta's Story moves along quickly from the hot summer of 2018 that changed the then-15-year-old's life, driving her to launch a climate strike at school and publicize it on Instagram. Kids with an interest in climate change or activism around some other cause will find a lot of information and probably some inspirational ideas here.

Readers dealing with autism spectrum disorder, which in Greta's case seems to be both a disability and a superpower, and depression, which she overcame to do her work, may find her story especially relatable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how climate change moves a teen to take action in Greta's Story: The Girl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet. Will you doing anything differently at home or at school after learning about this issue?

  • Greta's parents are an actor and an opera singer. Do you think this had an effect on her thinking and what she was able to do?

  • How did social media help Greta get her message out? Have you or kids you know used social media to promote a positive cause? How did it work out? 

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