ISBN 9780-9549165-7-2. “Hope and the Magic Martian” is by Helen Moore and Louise Rouse. It is a small 102 page paperback ‘novel’ published by Lollypop Publishing Ltd in 2008. The blurb on the back reads “What can ten year-old Hope MacGregor do about global warming? A Martian boy with a loving heart shows we can all change the story that shapes out future.” Once again we have a book only suitable for children in the 7 to 12 year-old age group. It’s lack of colour illustrations also means that it has little value for very young children but may be used as a bedtime story for some. The story starts at Hope’s birthday when she turns ten. He dad gives her a telescope and through it she can see Mars. Little Hope wants to meet a Martian and wished very hard for this to come true. Meanwhile, on Mars, the real Martians are studying Earth. A father explains to his Martian son (Martin Love) about life on Earth. As they look through the telescope they notice that Earth’s ice caps seem smaller now than before. “They’ll end up like us, if they are not careful.” says the Martian dad. He goes on to tell his son the story of the Red Planet… Of how the Martians over-exploited the water and the planet turned into a dust bowl as they fought wars over the few remaining precious resources. So Martin flies to Earth to meet Hope. When Hope touches Martin’s spaceship she shrinks to Martin’s size – for he is only an inch high – and off they go for an adventure in Martin’s spaceship that not only resembles a snowball, but it can travel so fast that no time will pass.
They go to the North Pole and meet a Polar Bear cub call Little Faith – who can talk to them. They have a meeting with all the other Artic animals who, one by one, explain how the crazy weather is effecting their food supply and their abilities to make homes and raise families. To understand it they call upon the Artic People who come and explain global warming to them. They also explain how the lives of the Artic Peoples has been effected by outsiders coming in and exploiting their reserves of oil, gas, gold and silver. The outsiders says that the Artic People are old-fashioned and stupid for talking to the animals. The outsiders now say that the only thing that matters is money. Hope is so upset she wants to go home. At home she discusses what she has learnt with Martin and they agree that something must be done. However, Hope is unsure as she believes that no one will listen to her.
She asks her family to start recycling and then starts to think about all the packaging and waste around her. Martin teaches Hope that all life is like water droplets caught in a spider’s web – they are all joined together with all the creatures she met in the Artic and all her family. Next day Hope suggests that she cycles to school instead of being driven. She switched off the TV as she see how all life is joined by the threads of the web. Everything effects everything else. Hope’s mother doesn’t believe in aliens so she couldn’t see Martin, however, Hope’s father can. They meet and agree to do something about global warming. First out come the bicycles…. When they get to school they persuade the other children to try cycling too. The ideas for saving energy starts to spread through the school and the teachers take part in an Energy Action meeting. Suddenly all the children are alive with ideas: use the train for holidays, growing their own veggies, fitting double-glazing, getting a wind-turbine, and so on. Hope’s Granny tells her all about the second world war, rationing and the Dig for Victory campaign. She is invited to the school to tell this story and the children become enthusiastic about digging for victory. The school starts its own vegetable garden with composting and rainwater recycling. An area was put aside for a wild flower meadow to encourage birds, bees and butterflies. Soon the school gets and energy efficiency make-over for a local builder. A wind-turbine is erected there.
The Newspapers start covering the story and the Town Mayor comes to open the wind-turbine. Hope asks the Mayor what everyone else in the town is doing. The Mayor thought about it and then started an Energy Action team within the Council. More allotments sprung into use and cycle lanes appeared. Public transport was improved and people walked and cycled more. Everyone in the town started to feel healthier. Doing these things also seemed to make people feel happier. The town comes alive with street parties, markets, barbecues, fairs and concerts. The good news spreads to other towns as the ideas become viral. Hope is invited to go to the House of Commons by her MP to meet the Prime Minister. Hope comes to believe that everything she made happen is as a result of the Martian’s magic. But Martin is unwell and has to go home to Mars. Before he leaves Hope he makes her understand that it was her who made the changes happen. It is she, and many like her, who will keep it going. She never needed a Martian to make this happen. She only had to understand what was wrong. She only had to have hope that she could make the world a better place. This is a humbling story of Transition for children. The process described is exactly the one described by the Transition Network for Transition Initiatives. As such this book is an inspiration for all of us. It is only sad that grown ups seem have such little of that important element. Hope. Recommended.