This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.
As part of today’s interactive green blogger book fest, I just finished reading The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle, an illustrated kids book published by Little Green books, written by Alison Inches illustrated by Pete Whitehead. It’s a cute little volume printed on postconsumer waste recycled paper (and even includes a handy definition of postconsumer waste right in the inside cover).
The story follows a googly-eyed personified entity from life as a “thick, oozing blog of crude oil” through incarnations as plastic particles, a plastic bottle, a recycled flower vase, shredded plastic bits and, finally, a synthetic fleece sweatshirt worn into space by an astronaut.
I jumped on selecting this book for the Green Books Campaign because I was psyched to see such a trash-related kids book on the market. I was a bit disappointed to discover the whole thing was written in a “dear diary” format, mostly because I don’t believe in dumbing things down too much for children, but also because it’s a bit confusing in this particular case since the protagonist is a blog of molecules that are reshaped several times over the course of the story.
That said, The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle does an excellent job explaining in clear, compelling and adorably-illustrated text how plastic bottles are made and how they might be reused and recycled beyond a single use storing bottled beverage. There’s even handy glossary in the back to review new terms learned such as “oil refinery” and “extruder”. I do love a good glossary.
But at the end of the day, the overall framing of the story leaves me hesitant to recommend it to parents wanting to give their kids a good green education. While understanding where plastic comes from and how to recycle it is a valuable lesson, a better story would have been one that included ideas about how to avoid using plastic all together…or conserving resources like crude oil for other tasks than temporarily holding single servings of water and soda. It struck me as very add and more than a little sad that a volume coming out of a green publishing imprint that went through all the pains of publishing on uber-pc postconsumer waste paper. Of course, you can’t really have a story narrated by a little bottle and then advocate for that bottle not to exist. Well, I guess you could, but it would be weird and dark…which come to think of it describes all my favorite childhood tales…
In short: this book needs an appendix!