Our House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet by Jeanette Winter
Our House Is On Fire:
Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet
Purchased from Barnes & Noble
Winter's picture book biography does exactly what I want a picture book biography, especially one of a singular human being like Thunberg, to do. This book presents a precise, powerful story that echoes (and sometimes quotes) the sparsely potent words of Thunberg herself in a way that is accessible for young readers/listeners who know nothing about the subject. Winter begins with Thunberg's life in Stockholm, Sweden, where Greta felt invisible and sat in the back of the class, not saying anything. Without naming Thunberg's Asperger's, Winter tells readers that "Greta could think about one thing for a long, long time." This is exactly what Thunberg does when a teacher speaks to her class about, "the climate, about how our planet is getting warmer, about how the polar ice is melding, about how animals' lives are threatened. And ours, too." Winter takes readers through the the effects of climate change visually and with words, as Thunberg and her dog Roxy witness a gallery of devastation, from the bleaching of the coral reefs to blazing wildfires. Winter captures Thunberg's impassioned, angry voice both in the expressions she paints on Greta's face and also with pages that are just bold words, Greta's words, that feel almost like they are being shouted at the reader.
The second half of the book tracks Thunberg's decision to strike for the climate in front of the Parliament building in Stockholm, letting readers know that "her parents understood" her decision to skip school every Friday. As word of Thunberg's activism spreads, Winter's illustration shows the power of social media, children looking at their phones and the word "strike," in many languages, appearing in word bubbles above their heads. Thunberg's speeches at the United Nations climate talks and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, along with quotes that give readers a good idea of Thunberg's urgency, follow. The penultimate spread and final words from the author read, "Greta's protest, all alone, sparked a worldwide children's march. Her quiet voice, joined by thousands of voices, became a roar." The illustration shows Greta in front of children holding signs of protest, with her words roaring out the final pages of the book. CAN YOU HEAR US? This is followed by a two-page spread that gives readers a better look at the children protesting, all holding signs that young protesters have been seen with. The final two page spread of Thunberg's bold words asks readers, "WHAT WILL YOU DO?"
Backmatter includes brief information on Thunberg and the world climate strike on March 15, 2019 as well as a list of all the countries where children marched. Sources for research and quotes are also included as well as this quote from Winter,
When I heard her speeches, I felt Greta was speaking for me. And I'm eighty years old.
While I could not find any indication that this book was printed using recycled materials, it was manufactured in the United States of America.