Kirkus (starred review)
"For high schools that assign one book for all students to read and discuss: This is the one."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)"Few readers will look at the world the same way after finishing this book."
Booklist (starred review)"This remarkable book offers young people the tools they need to become informed, responsible global citizens."
School Library Journal (starred review)"Written in a lively style, lavishly illustrated, and timely in its subject matter, this well-researched book is a call to action: now is the time to save our environment."
The Horn Book
"Going straight to the issues that matter, this is a refreshingly opinionated approach to informed action, encouraging teens to think and act critically, communally, and responsibly."
"This is a primer on how to observe, think, investigate, evaluate, and think again—something that should be the foundation of every educational system."
Cooperative Children's Book Center
"A phenomenal primer on critical thinking, human psychology, and how to become informed about and invested in the future of our planet."
"Readers who appreciated the community garden focus of Fleischman’s novel Seedfolks must read Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, which may become the author’s most influential book."
Baker and Taylor
"Having had the opportunity to discuss this title with my library’s teen book group, I can attest that it immediately started an intense discussion, and was given merit as a resource for finding essay topics and useful links to get going with them."
Green Right Now"Throwing the question to the room is a hallmark throughout Eyes Wide Open, and makes the book feel like a cozy class discussion, a collaboration instead of a lecture."
Washington Post"Prompted by the disturbingly regular sight of dead bees on his driveway, Paul Fleischman has done our beleaguered planet a kindness: He’s inspected its environmental ills and given the next generation some analytical tools to sort through them."
San Francisco Chronicle"...But more important are powerful lessons about how to judge media, discern truth and know what to believe. Therein lie enduring, transferable skills."
Publishers Weekly (starred)http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7636-7102-0
“History is happening right here and right now,” writes Newbery Medalist Fleischman in this challenging and provocative overview of current environmental and sociological problems, which urges readers to think critically and broadly about the world. Throughout, Fleischman gives readers a toolbox of deciphering skills with which to recognize—for starters—the vested interests that guide decisions made by those in power, media and PR distortions, and both real and “shadow” solutions. Photographs, sidebars, and an array of suggested resources bolster the hard truths outlined (“Solving the environment requires looking straight at reality and calculating the costs of our lifestyle and options”). Few readers will look at the world the same way after finishing this book. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
With simple, matter-of-fact language, an attractive layout and an abundance of references, this compact guide to addressing climate change is a must-read for millennials and for all who seek solutions to global warming. Fleischman begins with a personal story about noticing dead bees in his driveway and wondering about the cause. He uses this incident to emphasize the point that history—specifically history related to environmental issues—is happening all around us and is undeniably related to the choices made by both individuals and institutions. He clearly states the book’s goal early on: “to give you a foundation under your decisions.” The pages that follow—best read slowly and sequentially—represent a crash course in recent and ancient environmental issues, drawing from history, economics, psychology and sociology to pursue the stated goal. Readers are offered advice on how to analyze and interpret what they hear in person and discover through the media. There is a laudable restraint; even as the text relentlessly shows how human beings have created climate change, sources are also given to read “the most respected” divergent views. Despite its unflinching presentation of facts about myriad environmental concerns, the book manages to end on a note of hope for a new generation of activists. For high schools that assign one book for all students to read and discuss: This is the one.
School Library Journal (starred)
Gr 6 Up–Written in a lively style, lavishly illustrated, and timely in its subject matter, this well-researched book is a call to action: now is the time to save our environment. The author describes his technique as getting altitude, or getting above the problem, to see the big picture. Rather than simply offering a list of simple things kids can do to help the environment, he offers more complex solutions for becoming aware of the issues, such as noticing that there is a problem, becoming aware of defense mechanisms preventing people from acting, and learning about systems like capitalism that allow environmental threats to continue. Each chapter, divided into nifty topic-highlighted paragraphs, is filled with historical facts and current events, sidebars, photographs, and definitions of key terms. Backstories, including the oil embargo, the ozone crisis, and the Kyoto Protocol, are presented along with a section on how to weigh information (evaluate the media, follow the money, and check for fallacies). The presentation of facts and the author’s positive message are what shine here. An excellent and thought-provoking take on a well-worn subject. –Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community College, Mt. Carmel
This remarkable book offers young people the tools they need to become informed, responsible global citizens. While it opens with a tale of Fleischman finding dead bees in his driveway, the discussion quickly broadens to consider the application of critical thinking skills to environmental issues. Rather than advising readers to take specific actions, Fleischman tells them how to evaluate information on topics such as climate change and encourages them to take action by charting “a course that seems reasonable.” He also discusses techniques to sway public opinion, such as sowing doubt, discrediting scientific studies, and hiding corporate funding of organizations promoting, for example, fossil fuels. The cascade of facts, observations, informed commentary, and sage advice may occasionally overwhelm readers. On the whole, though, thoughtful readers will appreciate this insightful, refreshing title’s broad scope, use of specific examples, and the many references to related books, documentaries, and online articles, lectures, and interviews. The appended “How to Weigh Information” section is particularly excellent. A Newbery Medal–winning writer, Fleischman notes that he is “no trained scientist,” but his exceptional ability to organize the information here and present it articulately makes him a notable citizen scientist. —Carolyn Phelan
Prompted by the disturbingly regular sight of dead bees on his driveway, Paul Fleischman has done our beleaguered planet a kindness: He’s inspected its environmental ills and given the next generation some analytical tools to sort through them. In Eyes Wide Open Fleischman takes a broad view, beginning by debunking two widely perpetuated illusions: (a) “It’s always been this way” and (b) “Everything’s fine.” An acclaimed storyteller (Bull Run) and poet (Joyful Noise), Fleischman briskly describes, without gloom or doom, how we have gotten into this situation and how we may be able to get out of it. He looks at both science and money: “Science explains what nature is doing; money often explains what we’re doing.” He also draws on history, psychology and sociology to illuminate what population, power and politics have to do with climate change. The book makes clear that the scarcity and side effects of fossil fuels make current consumption rates unsustainable, but Fleischman doesn’t want people to throw up their hands in despair. Acknowledging the complexities of science and human behavior, he says it make sense for fossil-fuel companies to behave as they do in search of profits; it’s up to the rest of us to understand our own interests. Full of pertinent historical references and images, the book provides many ideas on how to learn more, be hopeful and take action. —Abby McGanney Nolan
The Horn Book
Fleischman issues a wake-up call—and a challenge—to today’s teens about the environmental crisis. He begins with a call to arms to see through “the everyday world’s two biggest illusions: ‘it’s always been this way’ and ‘everything’s fine,’” urging teens to critically examine the information fed to them through advertising, politics, and “the whole culture we’re part of.” The book homes in on five “key fronts”—population, consumption, energy, food, and climate—and explores the historical and sociological contexts in which those in power made the profit-driven decisions that helped get us into this mess. Fleischman writes urgently, conversationally, and inspirationally, in a flow of ideas that is sometimes quite dizzying as he connects the dots between major social, political, psychological, economic, and scientific concepts and his personal experiences and thoughts. There’s a lot to process: a single page might hold references to a political speech, an internet video, a cartoon image, Fleischman’s observations of his local environment, and a sophisticated scientific term. Yet none of the concepts is dumbed-down, and readers can look up more information if they choose using the copious source notes, resource lists, and a primer on critical media consumption found in the back of the book. Going straight to the issues that matter, this is a refreshingly opinionated approach to informed action, encouraging teens to think and act critically, communally, and responsibly. --Danielle J. Ford
The Cooperative Children's Book Center
An informative and engaging book about the complexity and interconnectedness of environmental issues is also a phenomenal primer on critical thinking, human psychology, and how to become informed about and invested in the future of our planet. What happens when we don’t like what we’re hearing or reading about environmental issues? What happens when we are presented with factual information that challenges what we believe or think we know? How do we respond as individuals, and collectively? The book is divided into sections titled Noticing, Perception, Defense Mechanisms (e.g., denial, projection, regression), Systems (e.g., democracy, capitalism), Attitudes, and Eyes Abroad and Ahead. Using real-world examples, Paul Fleischman challenges readers to think about where information they are looking at or hearing comes from (follow the money), who has a vested interest in it (follow the money), and to learn how what to consider in evaluating what they are seeing, hearing or reading. He acknowledges that it can be hard to be optimistic about our environmental future, but becoming informed and engaged is a critical first step to rising to the challenge and collectively fighting for change.
San Francisco Chronicle
Don’t look to this provocative book for a list of “Fifty Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth.” Instead, a Newbery Medalist from Santa Cruz challenges teens with the hard stuff — how we live today (better than ever) and what that means for the planet (bad news). Five problem areas get top billing: population, consumption, energy, food and climate. Fleischman offers no easy answers for the challenges ahead, especially given the murky mix of vested interests, defense mechanisms, taxation policy, capitalism, media, wars, technology, market forces and emerging economies that often precludes a meaningful fix. So what to do? Some pithy next-steps emerge amid showstopping photos. But more important are powerful lessons about how to judge media, discern truth and know what to believe. Therein lie enduring, transferable skills. --Susan Faust
Fleischman’s transdisciplinary approach is informed by science, economics, history, sociology, and media studies. The compelling format includes numerous short chapters with sidebars, illustrations, and source notes. Every page offers interesting visual design as well as quality content. An inevitable limitation of this method is that the book substitutes breadth for depth, yet Fleischman’s engaging book will launch readers into further inquiry. Despite a few pro/con discussions covering different perspectives on topics such as fracking, Eyes Wide Open emphasizes research-based findings in environmental science. This unique and up-to-the-minute book builds understanding about how we have reached the current moment in history. Particularly compelling chapters include “Chindia: Why Your Future Is Tied to China and India,” “Denial: Problem? What Problem?” and “Fixes: What Works, What Doesn’t.” A closing essay about “How to Weigh Information” explains differentiating among sources and checking for fallacies. Another useful feature is the glossary, containing ninety-four key terms such as cap and trade, geoengineering, greenwashing, race to the bottom, and tragedy of the commons. Readers who appreciated the community garden focus of Fleischman’s novel Seedfolks (HarperCollins, 1997/VOYA June 1997) must read Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, which may become the author’s most influential book. —Amy Cummins