Combining two volumes of the original series, translated from the French, this volume follows middle-schooler Chloe Blin as she navigates two very of-the-moment issues: environmental friendliness and cyber-bullying.
The first half of this book sees Chloe and her friend Mark roped into helping start an eco-friendly vegetable garden at school by their far more enthusiastic best friend Fatouma. While Fatouma is totally gung ho about everything to do with setting up the garden, Chloe is more half-hearted, especially when she realizes exactly how much work it entails. It doesn’t help that her nemesis Anissa has also been recruited for the project, and seems alternately more intent on making catty comments about everyone else or positioning herself the star of the show. But as Chloe slowly gets more into gardening, she also gets super bossy in the way only self-righteous middle schoolers can be. When an attempt to shame Anissa backfires, her school principal cancels the project and declares the garden off-limits. Can Chloe and her friends figure out a way to get him to change his mind?
The second story involves Chloe turning cyber-detective to figure out who’s harassing her classmate Miriam. When a video of Miriam slipping down the steps goes viral, she quickly becomes the target of mean jokes in real life and awful comments on social media. Kind-hearted Chloe leaps to Miriam’s defense but soon finds herself in the crosshairs of the main troll, who goes by the name LOL. Efforts to solve the issue on her own cause her to become secretive and start doing poorly in school. Will Chloe be able to overcome her own paranoia in order to unite a group of unlikely allies for the purpose of taking down this vicious internet bully?
Running through both storylines is the development of her romance with the sweet and exceedingly patient Tim. I suppose a greater familiarity with the books that preceded Green Thumb in the series would enlighten me as to why she’s so reluctant to go public with their relationship. It would definitely explain why her mother calls her Misty every so often, tho I imagine that has to do with this book’s original French title, Mistinguette (the relevance of which is still unknown to me.)
Greg Tessier does a good job depicting modern French childhood, tho I do feel that some stuff gets lost in translation between the French milieu and the expectations and lived experience of this American reader. While I found much of Chloe’s family life delightful — in large part due to Amandine’s entirely charming illustrations — I was a little taken aback by how Chloe got away with steamrolling so many of her very understanding friends and acquaintances without being given a deserving comeuppance, particularly in the first half. The book means well, tho, and the little interludes between chapters, going in more detail on both environmentally friendly practices and Internet terminology (which latter does seem to differ from the usual American usages) are helpful for young readers with a deeper interest in the subjects. Not the worst graphic novel to hand to your kids, tho also perhaps not the best place to start in the series.
Chloe #6: Green Thumb by Greg Tessier & Amandine was published yesterday June 21 2022 by Charmz and is available from all good booksellers, including