For years now, fossil fuel has
been depleted; islands swallowed by rising waters, and coastal towns washed
The Before is a series of stories told to children in this new era.
Community gardens and markets assure survival. Excess food is bottled and stored
to share during tough times. Viruses are still circulating. Masks are mandatory.
Due to the frailty of her
ageing great-grandmother Libby, Hannah must farewell all that is familiar as the
two set out to live with an uncle far away. Their lengthy journey begins with
horse and cart and continues by tram.
Hannah is forced to share
a room with her bristly cousin Melanie after a lifetime in her own space. That
her new home is a house carved into the side of a hill with skylights, increases
her sense of being an outsider.
Wren has lived a solitary
life on the mountain with Old Man who raised and taught him all he knew. When Old
Man died, all Wren had was Kee, a black cockatoo which the boy had saved and
nurtured, and instructions to go and find someone he didn’t know in a place he
had to find.
The story concentrates on
and around these two young people and is presented in alternating voices with perfect
Both Hannah and Wren are
faced with significant change and adjustment, which draws them to one another.
This Solarpunk novel set
in natural surroundings, shines as an example for our current times. It concentrates
on and accents, the absolute necessity of caring for our planet now, in a
self-sustaining and protective way. It
reflects on the importance of a simple life without waste, the absolute benefit
of community living and the imperative of renewable energy.
Metaphors and descriptive
images fill each page, enhancing the brilliance of Cate Whittle’s flawless,
This is a thought-provoking,
optimistic novel not to be missed.
Title: Starberries and Kee
Author: Cate Whittle
Publisher: Storytorch Press, $17.95
Publication Date: 1 May 2023
For ages: 8 – 12
Type: Middle Grade Fiction