79 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz

Two Degrees

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2022

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Symbols & Motifs

Weather-Based Puns

Akira Kristiansen, Sue Tookome, Owen Mackenzie, and George Gruyere develop specific puns related to the elements they encounter during their survival efforts. After Owen’s mom warns her careless son to not fall in an ice hole, calling each other “ice hole” becomes a constant theme between the two. They tease each other with the phrase, especially after Owen literally falls into a hole while walking through the burned forest. Similarly, after encountering a bout of hail caused by the lightning storm, Akira and Sue make various puns using the word “hail” in place of “hell.” This joking helps develop their bond, making Akira realize that it is good to have a fellow teenager along to help distract her from their desperate situation.

These puns have a practical purpose, as well. Given the young target audience of Two Degrees, they allow Gratz to have the characters “swear” without using any actual curse words. This both allows the book to avoid controversy, and helps establish the characters as very young teenagers, just testing out “bad” words in a harmless, fun way. Importantly, both puns relate to things found in the environment, but not to the most pressing disasters.