The Climate Diaries (The Academy 1)

The Climate Diaries (The Academy 1)
Publisher Name
Borrowed Planet Press
Age Range
Release Date
April 22, 2024
After working in the climate-tech industry for the past fifteen years, debut author Aaron Arsenault is excited to inspire readers ages 9-12 to combat climate change. His climate fiction novel, “The Climate Diaries, Book One: The Academy” (Borrowed Planet Press, April 22, 2024) takes readers on an eco-adventure with troublemaker Jax Wilkinson, who is recruited by a top secret organization dedicated to preparing the next generation of climate-fighters.

As global temperatures skyrocket, a two-degree rise becomes unavoidable. Is the next generation up to the challenge? The Climate Action Taskforce (CAT) is dedicated to solving the climate crisis, and about more than just predicting the next superstorm- they are safeguarding the future of humanity. When the CAT Founder mysteriously disappears, it is a race against time to recruit ‘future Elon’s’ - now!

For 11-year-old genius Jax, fighting back against bullies has cost him big time. Having pulled his last prank, he’s given an impossible choice when the authorities get involved. With no screens, no contact with the outside world–and no second chances, can Jax make the cut? Joining forces with teammates Grace, August, and Kylie, Team 19 must learn to work together to hack it at the Academy–and to survive a climate disaster beyond their wildest fears.

Editor review

1 review
We're borrowing the earth from our children.
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What worked:
The topic focuses on climate change and the opposing views that are debating the issue. Jax is the main character and he’s recruited by CAT, a secret world organization combating the causes and effects of climate change. Short chapters mixed in share the view that any atmospheric changes are natural and humans are overreacting to normal weather patterns. Efforts to improve pollution and global warming will cost trillions of dollars and people will lose jobs that are dependent on fossil fuels. Their attitude is that we shouldn’t thank businesses that have given us everyday fuel sources and plastics by forcing them to close due to environmental concerns. The book blends information about climate change throughout the plot so readers will learn something while being entertained. The mid-term project for the recruits is to find a way to decrease methane emissions in cow farts!
The introduction of CAT, the Climate Action Taskforce, to the story makes it sound like a CIA operation. Agents dressed in black suits and dark glasses show up at Jax’s home and present him with a choice between going to juvenile detention or attending the Academy. He’ll be trained there to become a CAT agent. The agents arrive in a solar-powered, bulletproof, amphibious car with an exoskeleton made from tungsten. Academy candidates are flown in a windowless drone to an unidentified location, somewhere in the world. The secrecy and high tech of CAT are reminiscent of a covert government agency. There are clues provided about the Academy director that will make readers think he’s a shady character.
Jax is an intriguing character due to his diverse attitudes toward saving the environment and intolerance for bullies. He’s a genius but he doesn’t play well with others! Another recruit named Grace may be more interesting though. She has a superior, condescending attitude and immediately begins calling Jax, August, and Kylie nerds because of their knowledge and excitement about the environment. Grace says she attended the Academy the previous year but it’s clear she didn’t stay for the whole thing. She interrupts the counselor whenever he mentions her past participation so Jax realizes she’s hiding something. It doesn’t help that Grace is chosen captain over him so Jax is determined to prove himself superior to her at any cost. Their ongoing feud will keep readers wondering how bad it will get.
What didn’t work as well:
Jax is a difficult protagonist to root for. He’s arrogant and self-centered, and he doesn’t like being shown up by anyone else. He gets pleasure from antagonizing the people he targets. Jax doesn’t do well with rules and limits and he quickly gets offended or annoyed by authority. While his behavior and attitude make him difficult to like, these qualities help the plot’s conflict grow and increase the tension. Hopefully, the events at the end of the book will cause Jax to change his combative ways in the sequel.
The final verdict:
The cow fart methane problem is real; there was a story about it on my local news program this morning! The author skillfully includes facts about the climate crisis without making it annoying or overwhelming for readers. Jax’s personality is hard to tolerate but it certainly helps keep readers interested. I highly recommend you give it a shot! Can’t wait for the sequel.
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