Saving the Planet & Stuff was
originally published in 2003 by G.P. Putnam's Sons as a middle grade book for ages 10 and
up. In 2004, it was a finalist for the Connecticut Book
Award. Over the next several years it was included on teen reading lists at libraries
across the country and still appears on the Vermont Secretary of State's Reader's Corner
List for both middle
and high school
students. In 2008 it was included in the Book Links article The Text
Generation: Fiction That Incorporates Digital Communication, two years after it went
out of print. In 2016 Gyldendal
Undervisning (Education) purchased the rights to use an excerpt for use in a textbook
for Norwegian students studying English. The 2003 cover illustration was done by Robert Shadbolt. The 2013 eBook edition
includes the original text with a new cover illustration by Eric Bloom, and, in the Bonus
Material, the short story Three Weeks with Walt and Nora. It was written prior to
the book and never published.
Reviews of the Original Hardcover Edition:
Booklist: "A keen observer with a wry wit, Michael is a
sympathetic character, always sure his friends are having a better summer than he
is A new slant on ecological fiction."
Kirkus Reviews: "Memorable, hilarious, and featuring a likable,
unlikely hero." Read the full review here.
Publishers Weekly: "Taking full advantage of the wildly divergent
values and mores of this couple and the teen, Gauthier incorporates spirited dialogue, wry
asides from Michael and droll scenarios " Read the full review here.
School Library Journal: "This is a funny look at what it's like
being an intern at a small business where office politics are rife and everyone knows
everyone else's business. Michael even has a bit of a romance. The frequent references to
pop culture, mass consumerism, and ecological issues will have lots of teen appeal."
The Horn Book: "Count on Gauthier to poke fun at some of our
sacred cows This dialogue-rich novel is filled with laugh-out-loud sound bites, and
it moves at a clip similar to the instant messaging Michael does on the computer with his
The Washington Post: "A wry, amusing take on the neglected topic
of teenagers in the world of work."
Internet Material on Saving the Planet & Stuff eBook Edition:
My writing definitely comes out of my life experience. I prefer the expression
"write who you are" to "write what you know," and my work is shaped by
two different sides of who I have been over the years. I was a suburban mother in central
Connecticut for a couple of decades, but I grew up in rural Vermont prior to and during
the period when it saw an influx of urban immigrants who were interested in living
alternative lifestyles. Both my suburban mother-self who raised two boys at the end of the
twentieth century and my college-self who was exposed to and influenced by
environmentalism and feminism a couple of decades earlier came together in Saving
the Planet & Stuff.
Michael Racine was inspired by my tech-savvy teenage son who, as a pre-teen, was
offered an opportunity to go to a Maine cabin with a couple of his grandparents' friends
so he could set up some computer equipment for them. His mother declined this invitation
for him. However, I loved the idea of a boy thrown in with strangers who were not just
strangers in the sense that he didn't know them but strangers in the sense that he didn't
know their world because they were two generations removed from him. While working with
that situation, I turned to my own past to come up with Walt and Nora, two people whose
generational difference truly make them a mystery to a suburban twenty-first century