Amphibian delights the Daily Gleaner

By Gloria Nickerson
The Daily Gleaner
June 20 2009

Local Fredericton author Carla Gunn is gaining local and national attention for her new book Amphibian.

Seen through the eyes of nine-year-old eco-anxious Phineas Walsh, the world is an illogical and environmental mess.

This intelligent and insightful insomniac is up at night wondering how we humans can continue to pollute our planet, destroy animal habitats and generally avoid our environmental responsibilities. After all, the facts are all over the Green Channel and the Internet.

If worrying about the demise of the planet wasn't bad enough for Phineas, he's dealing with a real jerk of a school bully, a recently deceased grandfather and a dad who travels all over the world.

With just his mom and his friend Bird to navigate the world, Phineas retreats into obsessive worry, research, his various lists and his drawings of Reull, a fantasy planet of dominating Gorach's who are intent on destroying everything.

And when his mom limits the Green Channel and sends him to a therapist there's nothing left to do but initiate Mission Amphibian, the rescue of his class pet, the Australian Tree Frog.

Often exasperating, very funny but persistently logical, Phineas challenges the reader to take a second look at the regurgitated answers we give kids and ourselves about our planet and each other. While getting to know Phineas with his insomnia, anxiety and general eco-obsession, you can't help but wonder if we all worried a little more than maybe Phineas could worry a little less and have a normal if somewhat blissfully ignorant childhood.

As adult behaviours are often complicated and confusing, it is only with the precision of Gunn's writing that we are deftly and profoundly brought to a heightened understanding. Gunn has created a unique and inspiring new character in Phineas Walsh and Amphibian is a delightfully different novel not to be missed.

Amphibian abounds with ecological information, relatable concerns and real heart. Even with all the saturation of animal and environmental facts, the writing is buoyant, interlaced with insight, genuine humour and a positive hope for the future of the planet and for the complicated world of Phineas Walsh.

Related Content
Related Contributors: 
Related Titles: