The Mess That We Made by Michelle Lord

The Mess That We Made

Michelle Lord, Author

Julia Blattman, Illustrator

Flashlight Press, Nonfiction, Jan. 1, 2020

Suitable for ages: 5-7

Themes: Oceans, Pollution, Marine Life, Call to Action, Environmentalism

Opening: “THIS is the mess that we made.”

Synopsis:

Join four children in a little boat as they discover the magnitude of The Mess That We Made. With rhythmic language and captivating art, this cumulative tale portrays the terrible impact of trash on the ocean and marine life, inspiring us to make changes to save our seas.

Includes a back section with facts about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, ocean pollution, and Calls to Action for kids and grown‑ups to share.

Why I like this book:

Michelle Lord doesn’t shy away from showing children a realistic view of what is occuring in our oceans, particularly the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But it also is an inspiring call to action for readers that is hopeful and empowering. Julia Blattman’s colorful and beautiful illustrations will capture children’s imaginations.

The snappy text is set to the familiar nursery rhyme The House That Jack Built, with each of the stanzas ending with “the mess that we made.”  First half of the books sets the scene about what is happening to the marine life that are being hurt by the plastics and trash that humans dump into the ocean. “This is the plastic, thrown away, / that traps the turtle, green and gray, / that rides the current through the bay, / that rocks the boat of welded steel, / that dumps the net, / that catches the seal, / that eats the fish / that swim in the mess that we made.” The second half enourages readers to take action, beginning with a beach clean-up day.

Lord’s has done an exceptional amount research for her educational book. Make sure you check out the back matter where she elaborates on each of the repeated phrases, describing how each animal is affected by pollution, and why plastics are particularly problematic.  At the bottom of each topic she suggests ways children can begin to make a difference: using reusable bags, disposing trash in proper recyling bins, using recyclable straws, and drinking from reusable water bottles. A third page focuses on solutions and activities. And check out the back end pages for a map of the Ocean Garbage Patches.

This may seem like a heavy topic, but it is one that children will want to get involved in. They will see the way that they can be helpful.  It deserves a place in every school library/classroom.

Resources: This is a perfect classroom book where kids can talk about the problem, take action at school and home to make sure they are helping to reduce pollution. And there are many clean-ups that take place to remove trash from beaches, rivers, lakes and  neighborhoods.  Check out the Flashlight Press website for even more resources.

Michelle Lord is the author of several books for children including Paterson Prize Honor Book A Song for Cambodia, Nature Recycles, and Animal School: What Classe are You?  She lives with her family in New Braunfels, TX.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

This is the Earth

Earth Day, April 22, 2016!

This is the Earth61y9PNfPY3L__SY498_BO1,204,203,200_This is the Earth

Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, Authors

Wendell Minor, Illustrator

Harper Collins, Nonfiction, Feb. 23, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Pages: 40

Themes: Caring for the planet, Living in harmony with the environment, Pollution, Conservation, Respect, Healing

Opening: “This is the land, / fertile, alive, / crawling with creatures / that help it to thrive.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: This Is the Earth takes readers on a journey through hundreds of years as it explores how humans have affected the environment and shows the ways in which we can all care for the planet. Every action we take has an impact on our surroundings — and everyone can help save the world.

This is the Earth

that we treat with respect,

where people and animals

interconnect,

where we learn to find balance

between give and take

and help heal the planet

with choices we make.

Why I like this book:

Diane Shore and Jessica Alexander have written a very sensitive and uplifting story for children about the condition of the land, air and water of our planet. The text is beautifully written in rhyming verse and makes it easy for young children to digest. Their goal is to help children realize the importance of living in harmony with our planet in a positive way.

This is a good introductory book for children. Each double-page spread gently focuses on how our planet has changed from its beginning pristine state. It shows how the arrival of the busy industrial age and the modernization of the planet have affected the earth. The book helps children understand and respect the interconnection between humans and all life.

This Is the Earth is about choices. It shows how every little action we take impacts the ecosystems and environment. Everyone can help heal the planet. The story encourages children to take action and live a greener life by riding bicycles, using less water in the shower, turning off lights in unused rooms, recycling trash, planting trees and gardens, and treating wildlife with respect. This is a hopeful book about taking care of  our precious home.

Wendell Minor’s illustrations are breathtaking and support the books very positive message. His rich and colorful watercolors convey a power that will captivate and appeal to children.

Resources: This is a great classroom book.  Involve students in cleaning up the school yard, planting trees on the property, and separating recyclable items. For more ideas about how you can make a difference, visit the Earth Day website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

One Plastic Bag61EOyyzSCzLOne Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

Miranda Paul, Author

Elizabeth Zunon, Illustrator

Millbrook Press, Nonfiction, Feb. 1, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Isatou Ceesay, Gambia, West Africa, Plastic bags, Pollution, Recycling

Opening: Isatou walks with her chin frozen. Fat raindrops pelt her bare arms. Her face hides in the shadow of  a palm-leaf basket, and her neck stings with every step.

Synopsis: As a girl, Isatou watches the people of her village carry items in plastic bags. When the bags tear, they toss them in the dirt.  The bags accumulate in heaps. They become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and disease. They impact the crops.  Goats rummage through the smelly bags for food. When her grandmother’s goats die from eating bags, Isatou knows she must do something. Now a woman, she begins to collect the dirty bags, washes them with omo soap and hangs them on a line to dry. Some of her friends begin to help. Others mock her. She comes up with an idea to recycle the bags into something useful. She and her friends crochet them into plastic purses, sell them in the market for a profit and help their community.

Why I like this book:

  • Miranda Paul skillfully captures this inspiring and true story of Isatou Ceesay and the women of Njau, Gambia, who are on a mission to recycle discarded and dangerous plastic bags to save their village.
  • The text is simple and lyrical. The story is character driven. The West African setting is realistic and the plot completely engaging for children. Children will grasp the importance of recycling and be intrigued by Ceesay’s solution.
  • It carries a strong message for children about how one person can see a problem, find a solution and make a difference in their community.
  • The story also shows how a group of women can create a product, make a profit, improve their own lives and help their village.
  • This is an excellent book for classrooms and youth groups, especially with Earth Day on April 22.
  • Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations are warm and richly textured with cut-outs that form a collage of beauty. She also creates a colorful collage of plastic bags for the end papers of the book. Visit Zunon at her website.

Resources: There is a very informative Author’s Note from Miranda Paul, a timeline of events, a glossary of words, and suggested reading. Visit the One Plastic Bag website for worksheets and a teacher’s guide. There is a special 2015 Earth Day Contest for kids Pre-K through 8th grade. Entries must be received by May 7, 2015. The contest is now open.

Miranda Paul has traveled to Gambia as a volunteer teacher, a fair-trade and literacy advocate, and freelance journalist.  She has another book, Water is Water, due out in May 2015.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.