Hatch Saves the Reef

Illustrated by Archie Gatley, Mark Mulgrew

“I’m a baby loggerhead. Please help me. / Dim your lights so I can swim in the sea.”

Starring an exuberant loggerhead turtle named Hatch, Hatch Saves the Reef takes readers on a thrilling adventure to the Great Barrier Reef. After getting confused by city lights, Hatch ends up lost on a soccer field. Fortunately, she’s rescued by a girl named Hurley, who unexpectedly understands the turtle’s words! Once Hatch is released back into the ocean, she and two other turtle friends journey from their home in Mon Repos, Australia, to the South American feeding grounds. Along the way, Hatch meets many other sea creatures, who tell her all about how humans have been ruining their lives. In order to save their home, the creatures must seek out the legendary SeaTide Princess. Meanwhile, on land, an engineer named Civil Faldt is cooking up plans for his newest coastal development project, a casino with lots of artificial lights. His son, Finn, disagrees with the project and it’s up to Hatch, Hurley, and Finn to take a stand and save the reef!

With its playful characters and cinematic plot, Hatch Saves the Reef raises awareness about three human-caused threats to marine ecosystems. The first threat, plastic pollution, can be seen from the very beginning of the book, when Hatch is unable to escape from her egg because she is entangled in a balloon string. The plastic pollution danger runs rampant in the ocean as well, with one creature explaining, “silent invaders look harmless, but if they sneak up on you, they wind around you and you can never escape.” Secondly, the book covers the topic of coral bleaching. Hatch learns from her two coral friends about how global warming, exacerbated by climate change, has been causing the corals to die. This can be connected to topics like trophic cascades, interconnectedness, and the web of life, since “if there’s no coral reef, then there’s no turtles, no nothing!” Thirdly, the book points out a less commonly talked about danger, light pollution. As seen with Hatch’s misdirection to the soccer field, artificial lights can disrupt animals’ internal GPS and cause them to forget where they need to go.

The narrative touches on the dangers of corporate greed and capitalism through Civil’s casino project, but the storyline takes a positive turn with Finn’s Reef Guardian club and their “Cut the Glow” initiative. By advocating to their local government, the students demonstrate the potential of youth climate activism and collective action, saying “we need to come together as a community to make real change.” Ultimately, their efforts persuade Civil to abandon his development plans and turn to sustainable initiatives like converting to solar energy and promoting green waste management.

The end of the book provides more useful resources including a glossary, expert-written essays, song lyrics, a list of conservation programs, and additional behind-the-scenes looks.

©2024 ClimateLit (Alexandra Delacruz)

Check out the Hatch Saves the Reef website where you can find teaching resources, character descriptions, a song recording, and creator/backer information. This is also where you can purchase the book. Book proceeds go toward supporting reef & environmental projects.

Publisher: IVE, 2017

Pages: 211

ISBN: 978-0-646-87762-4

Audience: Ages 8-13

Format: Novels

Topics: Capitalism, Climate Change, Coastal Development, Collective Action, Conservation Programs, Coral Bleaching, Coral Reefs, Endangered Species, Food Chains, Global Warming, Greed, Interconnectedness, Light Pollution, Marine Conservation, Marine Ecosystems, Marine Pollution, Plastic Pollution, Pollution, Trophic Cascade, Waste Management, Web of Life, Youth Agency, Youth Climate Activism