The fictional middle graphic novel Global by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin (Sourcebooks Young Readers, April 2023) addresses the effect of global climate change by illustrating two unique children in opposite situations on the other side of the globe. While Yuki faces a grolar bear (half grizzly and half polar bear) in the Arctic circle, Sami struggles with the rising sea waters in the Bay of Bengal off the shores of India. Both stories emphasize the real human impact of climate change on children, even while telling two unique adventure stories.
Yuki’s story is intertwined with the grolar bears. As offspring of polar bears and a grizzly bear parent, they are protected from being shot as they come too close to her town. In hopes of saving the grolars, she goes on a mission to photograph one. But traveling in the Arctic circle is more difficult and dangerous than Yuki realizes. The effects of climate change include melting glaciers’ ice, which creates caverns with dangerously thin ice on top disguised as regular ice. In addition, the Arctic lakes are melting, letting the poisonous methane gas out into the world and removing Yuki’s means of retreat from the wild. Finally, the permafrost, below the snow layer, also is melting, removing the general stability of the ground. Yuki’s story is intense, although I couldn’t help but consider that she created this dangerous adventure by herself by going off on her own in the tundra’s wilderness.
Sami’s life likewise is full of modern-day difficulties related to climate change that directly impact his daily life. In his family’s fishing village, the houses are regularly sliding into the rising sea waters, making it necessary to relocate the homes farther inland regularly. Tropical storms regularly wipe out their stability as well, and people from failed farming villages join their fishing villages, leading to even fewer fish in the sea due to overfishing. His ultimate struggle likewise was his own fault, but I guess these two children were not thinking clearly so maybe kids won’t be as annoyed as I am, as a mother thinking about my own children!
As you may predict, the stories of these two children overlap in the end. I found the overlap between the two to be highly unlikely, but that’s okay. After the stories, a few pages extend the discussion of the climate’s effects on Sami’s and Yuki’s lives, again in graphic format. I had previously understood the rising water level issues worldwide, but I had been unfamiliar with the reasons why overfishing has become a problem: global weather patterns affect the water temperatures, reducing the number of fish overall. I also hadn’t learned about grolars before, and the ways that climate change had expanded the bears’ natural habitats, out of necessity.
Global nicely ties a series topic into a story format that even middle-grade children can understand. The graphic novel format makes the story highly readable, with a mix of explanation and dialog that will keep a reader’s attention. Using such a book, I believe it would do my kids well to show them a world outside of their own, showing the real-life effects of global warming.
I read a digital review copy of Global.