Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade by Kimberly Behre Kenna
Publisher: Fitzroy Books
Number of pages: 152
Publishing: February 2nd, 2023
Source: Books Forward
Opening Line: "Artemis Sparke stood at the tippy-top of Fiddlers Creek trail, scanning the area with her binoculars."
Twelve-year-old Artemis Sparke lives and works with her mother cleaning rooms at the Horizon Hotel in New Haven, Connecticut. Her parents are in the mist of getting a divorce, and her father is always busy traveling for the book he is writing or teaching at the local university. When Artemis is not at the hotel or hanging out with her best friend, Warren, she can be found at the local salt marsh, gathering facts in her field notebook. For example, chronicling the number of crabs and fish in the marsh or detailing how RT, her favorite wood thrush, has had to move their nest because of noise from the renovations going on at the hotel. Recently, Artemis has been saddened by the changes she's observed in the marsh. If only people would pay more attention to the data and number's she's collected.
Then one day, while Artemis and Warren are searching for RT, they find BB pellets scattered around the marsh and are nearly run over by some boys from school riding their bikes, which is defiantly against the rules. Angered by the way that the marsh and surrounding area are being destroyed by trash, yard clippings and a disregard for the rules designed to protect the marsh, Artemis takes matters into her own hands. First, she develops the Sound Seekers Brigade, with Warren and a friend from the hotel. Next, she begins a campaign to increase public awareness concerning the damages caused by the hotel's renovations by writing a letter to the editor and hanging posters around town highlighting the specific problems. All of publicity angers her mom's boss/boyfriend, Harry Hellander and almost lands her in hot water. In a supernatural twist, Artemis is aided in her quest to protect the marsh by the ghosts of three deceased ecologists who help her to "dream big."
Artemis is both caring, curious, observant and passionate. She has this energy about her that is contagious. Artemis has a slight stutter which causes her to be teased by bullies from school and even Warren's dad. In these moments I found it easy to relate with how bad she must have felt, wanting to stand up for her and defend her against their bullying. Warren is a character who also captured my heart. I was saddened that he lives with an abusive, alcoholic father. He is such a sweet boy and wonderful friend to Artemis, joining her on her trips to the salt marsh, even though he'd rather finish their summer cycle challenge and go fishing. Despite some conflicts that arise between the two, and a moment when Warren is in grave danger, they have each other's backs when they need it the most. He reminds me a lot of one of my friends growing up.
Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade is the first book in the Brave Girls Collection adventure series, with a portion of the sales from the book going toward the Save the Sound, a group combatting climate change and the restoration of the Long Island Sound. I found the story to be very informative highlighting both the pollution that entered the marsh, for example the community dumping yard clippings or the use of fertilizer too near the water, and the ways to become involved. It's an especially pleasing read for wildlife and conservationists concerned about the impact humans are having on the environment. Artemis will inspire readers to look for the changes that are going on in their own communities.
Favorite line: "...That's the power of observation for you. When you stay still and attend, then you become a part of the beauty you see."
**A huge thank you to Books Forward for the print ARC in exchange for an honest review. **