cover image Green Thumb

Green Thumb

Rob Thomas. Simon & Schuster, $16 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81780-9

Thousands of miles from the high school halls of Slave Day and Rats Saw God, Thomas delivers an action-adventure novel largely set in the rain forest of Brazil. Thirteen-year-old science whiz Grady Jacobs finds junior high a snore. He lives for his botany experiments, which have made him National Science Fair champ for two years running. To his great pleasure, Grady's r sum earns him a spot on a research team working to save the rain forest. But the team leader, Dr. Carter, has assumed Grady is a college student, and when he realizes his mistake, he promptly saddles the boy with all the scut work. Grady masters the chores, then finds time to do his own projects, which include learning to control the movement of plants and trees using sound waves. In the process Grady also discovers something dangerous and evil: unbeknownst to the native peoples and the research team's U.S. benefactors, Dr. Carter is populating the rain forest with genetically engineered poison trees. While this book is aimed at a slightly younger audience than Thomas's previous YA titles, Grady's knowing, flip tone will appeal to Thomas's older teen fans. Grady's botanical talents skirt the fantastic and many readers may find themselves slowed by several discussions of scientific theory. But those who stick with it will find plenty of compelling situations. The author, who is also the creator and writer of the TV series Cupid, brings his screenwriting experience to bear as well; he provides the kind of exciting visual detail usually associated with action movies. Ages 10-14. (May)