How to Save the World with a Chicken and an Egg is Emma Shevah’s fifth book for children and has a strong environmental theme. I am a big fan of Emma’s books. She writes about issues close to the heart of children with warmth and humour and her latest book is no exception.
The two children at the centre of the story appear as different as can be but they share a passion for animals. Ivy Pink Floyd can communicate with animals. Unfortunately, no one believes her, and her attempts to help make the world better for various hamsters, wasps and dogs are not met with the appreciation you might expect. Her best friends are a hen called Dot who loves the library, although the library does not love her, and her dog, Daddy Rufus. She is fostered by Jeremy and Aisling, a kind couple, who would prefer Ivy not to draw attention to herself. Nathaniel has spent his school life at boarding school, living with his grandmother whose dying wish was for him to get to know his estranged mother. His previous ordered existence is thrown into chaos and he finds it hard to adapt. The reader may guess, and the author confirms in the acknowledgments, that Nathanial has Asperger’s Syndrome. Ivy and Nathanial are both extremely likeable characters and it seems obvious to everyone but them that they would make an excellent team. Children do not always find friendship comes easily and their misunderstandings make their eventual friendship all the more satisfying and realistic.
How to Save the World with a Chicken and an Egg is told using the first person with chapters alternating between Ivy and Nathanial. It is an interesting narrative device and adds depth to the story. Emma Shevah’s passion for the planet is clearly communicated but never at the expense of the story. One of her great strengths as a writer is her ability to create three-dimensional characters who the reader cares about. She also writes with humour and I found myself chuckling frequently. Nathaniel’s exchanges with his mother are frequently hilarious as are Ivy’s eccentricities.
How to Save the World with a Chicken and an Egg will make an excellent addition to class libraries and will hold great appeal for those who enjoy stories driven by character development. It may inspire readers to learn more about some of the creatures mentioned in the story and to consider the difference they can make to the environment.
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