|Gaia Girls: Enter the Earth
by Lee Welles
Daisyworld Press, 2006; 336 pages, $15.16
This charming children's fantasy centers on 10-year-old Elizabeth Angier, an ordinary farm girl destined to help heal the Earth. Her adventure begins when an otter embodying Gaia explains that she needs Elizabeth's help, not only to preserve the farm she loves, but also to take part in saving the planet.
To aid Elizabeth, Gaia grants her the power to transport herself through tree trunks and roots, communicate with soil-dwelling creatures, and even rearrange patches of earth. Using these tools, along with her own intuition and courage and a little help from her friends, she sets out on her mission.
Blending humor, adventure, suspense, and hope, Gaia Girls contains many lessons about sustainability and justice. Simple, accessible, and entertaining enough for children to enjoy, the story nevertheless takes on such issues as factory farming, the dangers of pesticides, the problems with big-box stores, and the deceptions of advertising. Over the course of the story, Elizabeth grows as a person, grappling with loss and sacrifice, learning the hard way about abuse of power, and gaining the courage to stand up and fight for the Earth.
The Gaia Girls series will eventually consist of seven books. Book Two, Way of Water, was released earlier this year.