by Miranda Paul, Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
The inspiring true story of how one African woman began a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community.
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.
The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.
Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person's actions really can make a difference in our world.
One woman's efforts to rid her Gambian village of trash sparks a recycling movement in this uplifting tale inspired by true events. As a girl, Inatou admired the colors and myriad uses of the plastic bags that began to proliferate in her community. But years later, the same plastic bags, festering in trash heaps or floating through the air, have become a menace to humans and animals. Compelled to make her home beautiful, Inatou gathers the bags, cleans them, and crochets them into purses. She teaches other women to do the same, and an ecologically-minded enterprise is born. Notes of hope, determination, and empowerment suffuse Paul's story, which the author explains was informed by her volunteer work as a teacher in the Gambia. Incorporating real plastic bags into her mixed-media collages, Zunon, who grew up in West Africa, juxtaposes the brown, dusty landscape against splashes of color and vibrant printed dresses and head coverings worn by the village women. A glossary and list of suggested reading are included. -- Publishers Weekly
The simple format of this picture book belies the strength of its content, a story lovingly supported by charming collage illustrations. As a girl, Ceesay realized that the goats on which her village relied were dying because they were eating plastic bags. She also saw that people were tossing the used bags on the ground just as they had always thrown away their baskets when no longer useful--except the plastic bags, unlike the baskets, weren't biodegradable. So Ceesay figured out how to use crochet, a skill with which the villagers were already familiar, to make purses out of the plastic bags. Simple but lyrical text conveys this beautiful, thought-provoking tale of ecological awareness and recycling ('The basket tips. One fruit tumbles. Then two. Then ten.'). An inspiring account. -- School Library Journal
About the Contributors:
Miranda Paul is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books for children, including One Plastic Bag and Boston Globe-Horn Book Honoree Nine Months Before a Baby Is Born. Miranda is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and serves as its mentorship chair. Learn more at mirandapaul.com.
Elizabeth Zunon grew up in the Ivory Coast, West Africa, and memories of her childhood can be seen in her artwork. She currently lives in Albany, New York. Find her online at www.lizzunon.com.