The story follows Sophia who opens the door to a polar bear. Soon afterwards, climate refugees begin arriving at her door, which is a neat metaphor for what will happen as the climate crisis worsens. She learns they’re there to ask for her help. So she leads them to City Hall, accompanied by signs that you’d no doubt see on any climate march. However, the adults at City Hall aren’t interested, saying they’re too busy and there’s not enough money. Thus she channels her resulting tantrum into saving the world through climate action.
In many ways the book reminded me of Greta and the school strikes for climate movement. It’s also interesting that a young person was the protagonist in this story, as they’re the ones who will inherit the world we’re breaking, and thus they’re being forced to fight for their future.
Both Mann and Herbert are parents and said they wrote this book to educate children about the climate crisis, without trying to scare them. They intend for the book to provide the skills and knowledge they need to address the climate emergency. This is a challenge I’m very aware of, as I tried to do something similar in my children’s picture book Nanook and the Melting Arctic.
The book has gone on to win awards including the 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, and the 2020 American Meteorological Society Louis J. Battan Author’s Award. It began life on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform in 2017, where it became fully funded within 5 days. After originally being self-published by World Saving Books, the independent press run by Megan Herbert, a new edition was released in 2022 by North Atlantic Books, with distribution managed by Penguin Random House.
The book carries additional weight with contributions from distinguished climate scientist, Michael E. Mann, who is Presidential Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also Director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability, and the Media (PCSSM). For his contribution to IPCC reports, Mann alongside other IPCC authors won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Mann has provided useful bite-sized information explainers about climate change, in addition to a glossary of technical terms. Meanwhile Herbert’s engaging illustrations bring the engrossing story vividly to life.
The Tantrum That Saved the World is an important book with a vital message at this crucial point in history. As such, I highly recommend it and hope it leads to conversations between parents and children about how they can meaningfully take climate action.
My new cli-fi children’s picture book is Nanook and the Melting Arctic. Nanook is a caring polar bear who lives in the Arctic. But when his igloo starts melting, Nanook must find a way to save his friends and his home. He knows that the people who can help are also those who’ve caused the problem and he must find a way to convince leaders to act on the climate crisis. You can purchase Nanook from Amazon’s global stores including Amazon UK and Amazon US.