Darcy Moon has her own problems to deal with—her ‘embarrassing weirdo’ parents, fitting in at school and having enough money to buy Skippity Chips—without having to save the environment as well. But, according to the inhabitants of the local swamp (including talking frogs and tortoises), Darcy is an Earth Guardian whose duty is to save the swamp and its residents before it’s too late. Initially, Darcy goes into denial, scared of appearing even weirder to her school friends than she already does (thanks to a dad who smells like his beloved compost and a mum who plays the pan pipes and refuses to wear a bra). But, despite a few minor hiccups in ethical judgement, it is clear that Darcy’s natural impulse to do the right thing will triumph. What follows is a slimy, stinky, race-against-time endeavour to save the swamp, including its now-endangered western swamp tortoise. Any children’s book exploring environmental issues runs the risk of being overtly didactic, and as a result, a little off-putting. But Catherine Carvell’s romping good-versus-evil struggle and amusing array of characters offset the weight of her underlying message. This is a finely balanced adventure for eight- to 11-year-olds that touches on many other issues too, including acceptance, pride and the power of working together.
Jacqui Lawson is a freelance writer and reviewer, and a bookseller at Pages & More in Glenelg. This review first appeared in Junior Term 1, 2014 supplement of Books+Publishing magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.