5th Grade and Up
Annalise Oliver’s adopted family has owned and run lakeside cabins in Renn Lake, Wisconsin, for generations. This summer, she gets to help out while her younger sister, Jess, focuses on being an actress and her best friend is babysitting rambunctious twin boys. It’s the perfect opportunity for Annalise to work and spend more time by her beloved lake.
When she was three years old, Annalise discovered that she could sense what Renn Lake was thinking and feeling. Now, at twelve, she still turns to Renn for comfort. But when a small patch of algae quickly becomes a harmful bloom, Annalise can no longer hear Renn, and the lake is closed. She and her friends must find a way to save the lake.
A realistic environmental story with a hint of magic. The magic being that we get to read from the perspectives of both the lake and Annalise.
A good portion of the story focuses on Annalise coming to terms with her feeling about being abandoned as a baby. In most adopted or foster kid stories, the kid always wants to know who their birth parents are. Even if they have a great life with their adopted family, it makes sense that they would still want to know where they came from. But unlike other adoptive/foster kids, Annalise has no interest in finding her birth parents. In her words, “Why go looking for someone who threw you away? Dropped you off like they were returning you, like you didn’t fit or they changed their minds. Like you were a discard. Like you meant nothing.” I’m not going to try to untangle the psychology behind this, so let’s move on.
There is also the family dynamic between the parents, Annalise (the adopted child) and Jess (the biological child). But I won’t be going into that.
I love how Annalise cares so much for Renn Lake and how Renn Lake cares about her. That’s why when Renn gets sick from the algae, she refuses to sit around and do nothing. She is determined to do whatever it takes to help Renn. The book world needs more inspiring characters like Annalise who stand up for what they believe in.
What makes this story truly unique it that it’s about a very real and serious environmental issue. Ironically enough, my family planned a vacation to Isabella Lake last summer but we couldn’t go because the lake was covered with algae. I hope that there will be more books about kids taking on environmental issues and learning about environmental science in the future.
I can’t help but think that the subjects of lakes, rivers, and algae blooms would have made a great Magic School Busepisode. The original series, not the newer Netflix version. The series did have an episode about how wetlands work and how they are important to the environment.
In conclusion, this is a great book to read during the summer.
Be sure to read the FYI section at the end on the book to learn more about lakes, rivers, algal blooms and more. Internet links are included to read more about said subjects and ways to help and improve the environment.
This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about Algae
Some types of algae eat themselves when food is scarce.