Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade
Publisher Name
Fitzroy Books
Age Range
Release Date
February 02, 2023
When Artemis Sparke has had it with humans, she heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don’t make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it. But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the salt marsh is dying. Artemis discovers that the historic hotel where she lives with her mom may be part of the problem, but speaking up would mean confronting the cranky hotel owner who happens to be her mom’s boyfriend and boss. Artemis conjures up help from deceased ecologists, and as she works to untangle their clues, she finds family secrets that could be the key to saving the salt marsh but also may destroy her life as she knows it.

Editor review

1 review
Saving the environment against public apathy
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The story is primarily a crusade for conservation as Artemis is determined to save the salt marsh on Long Island Sound. She’s kept records of observations and measurements for years and notices a change in the plants and animals living there. The big conflict she faces is apathy as most citizens aren’t as passionate as she is about protecting wildlife. Her mother’s boss, and new boyfriend, runs a hotel that may be contributing to the salt marsh problem. Art is told there’s nothing one young girl can do to save the salt marsh but that just makes her more determined. She ends up creating a conservation team she calls the Sound Seekers Brigade. However, how will her mom’s boss react if he finds out about the trouble Artemis is creating?
Art has problems with anxiety that affect her speech and self-confidence. She stutters when stressed so her thoughts don’t always come out clearly. She’s very self-conscious about it and avoids confrontations and situations that might create direct conflict. She tries to bring the public’s attention to the failing salt marsh without drawing attention to herself. An anonymous letter and humorous posters help her promote her message although she must eventually learn to face her fears and personal issues. We must accept ourselves as we are.
The book is realistic fiction, for the most part, but elements of speculative fiction are subtly included. The opening pages find Artemis referring to talks she’s had with a bird called RT and the initial thought is “Oh what a nice imagination she has.” However, it seems she might actually be able to communicate with nature which she attributes to taking the time to listen. She later starts to see images of people that may be ghosts with a vested interest in saving nature. The author includes information about famous ecologists as Art researches strategies to change people’s minds. Readers can learn about past ecology movements too.
What didn’t work as well:
Most of the plot has a gloomy tone as Art tries to save the environment, deal with her frustrating life in a hotel, and help her best friend Warren handle a toxic father. Her obsession with the salt marsh doesn’t help her friendship with Warren so their relationship becomes a source of worry too. More positive, happy interactions and events would add balance to the tone.
The Final Verdict:
Using a salt marsh as an environmental topic is uncommon and the understated supernatural nature of the story will help entertain young readers. I recommend you give it a shot.
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