Here are the next two environmental kids’ books, as promised.
Michael Recycle,by Ellie Bethel, illustrated by Alexandra Colombo. Green Bean may think that my Michael is a super hero for encouraging his firm to stop buying bottled water. But this big picture book is about a new super hero, Michael Recycle, who flies into trashy towns in his green cape and colander hat and, in Suess-like rhyme, teaches everyone to recycle and garden and collect rainwater. Then, when the town is sparkling again, they throw a big old party to celebrate. In fact, instead of buying streamers,
They covered the town
In green toilet paper
Then rolled it back up
To use again later.
You may think that’s yucky
But these folks don’t agree
Recycling is key!
While the pictures in this book are fantastic fun and the Go Green Tips at the end are useful, I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on waste reduction and reuse before recycling.
They recycled their paper,
Their plastic and cans,
And even old junk
Like used pots and pans!
I’m not crazy about the word “junk” used to describe stuff that we may not need to keep for ourselves anymore. And recycling pots and pans? Doesn’t Michael know about Freecycle? He is, after all, a super hero. But maybe I’ve become more hardcore than the average bear. And from what I see on the streets of Oakland, it’s challenging enough to get kids to put their trash in a garbage can, much less recycle it. This book is a good start for getting the environmental message across.
I’ll be donating it to the Oakland library this weekend, per Burbanmom’s Giving Challenge.
Oh, and yesterday, when reviewing the two animal books, I forgot to talk about the production of the books themselves. One was printed in Mexico and the other in Singapore. Michael Recycle was printed in Korea. And, for a book about recycling, I was surprised that it’s not itself printed on recycled paper. Or if it is, that fact was not mentioned anywhere in the book or press materials I received. Hmm… sort of like the seminar on “greening your law firm” that Michael and I attended where bottled water and plastic-wrapped sandwiches were served while the panelists talked about eliminating plastic bottles from the workplace. There are the ideals that we espouse, but if they don’t translate into concrete changes, what good are they?
Okay, enough soap box. Michael Recycle is a really cute book and I think it would be a good addition to any school library.
The next book, which coincidentally organicneedle mentioned in a comment on my post yesterday, is My Bag and Me! Save a Bag, Save the Earth,by Karen Farmer, illustrated by Gary Grant. It doesn’t say what ages it’s geared toward, but the heavy cardboard pages and pictures of the little boy suggest to me (a non-parent) that it’s for small children. This book encourages kids not only to recycle, but to refuse disposable bags in the first place:
Let’s take a trip
to our favorite store,
where My Bag and Me say,
“Paper and plastic no more!”
The secret to My Bag And Me is the hidden pull-out tray in the back that contains a child-sized resuable bag they can take to the store with them. I love the idea of this, not to mention the cuteness. But I’m less enthusiastic about the materials.
The reusable bag is made of Dupont Tyvek, the type of plastic that many large postal envelopes are made from. The cover of the book states, “This book and the reusable Tyvek bag are 100% recyclable!” What you don’t realize until you read the fine print (if you read the fine print) is that Tyvek is only recyclable by mailing it back to Dupont. I devoted a whole post to Tyvek in October of last. It’s worthwhile to read if you haven’t already.
And notice that the book is advertised as “recyclable” rather than being made from recycled materials. So I contacted the PR rep who sent it to me and asked about the materials used as well as the decision to have it printed in China. These were her responses:
1) On using Tyvek to make the bag: Natural fibers, like cotton or hemp, were too bulky. The book would have been enormous and very heavy, not to mention the extra amount of paper needed to create the tray cavity. There is a marking on the bottom of the bag with an 800 number for recycling Tyvek information. Our hope, however, is that these bags will have a very long life as a shopping bag.
2) On the shiny coating on the cardboard pages: The coating is a plastic film, otherwise known as PP lamination. PP, or Polypropylene lamination is non-toxic and the same goes for the glue, ink and paper used in these books. The paper is made of C1S ( coated paper, one side), and Natura board.
3) On having the book manufactured in China: Cost was the deciding factor for printing in China. We would never have been able to produce this book here, and sell it at the cover price of $10.95. The manufacturer is ICTI audited which gives credibility and they can issue a letter guaranteeing that the materials used are non-toxic and certificates for the materials themselves.
Organicneedle wrote a bit about this book back in March, and then she came up with a list of ways to make your own reusable bags for kids out of reused materials or natural fabrics. Anyway, it’s a cute idea, perhaps not executed in the manner hardcore environuts like me would prefer, but useful nonetheless for getting kids accustomed to bringing their own bags.
I offer this book as another freebie to a Fake Plastic Fish reader. It’s not really appropriate for donating to the library because of the bag that needs to be removed and used. So please leave a comment and let me know if you’d like it. Or email me directly and let me know.
And finally, here’s an ACTION ALERT for anyone concerned about keeping commercial advertising/product placements out of kids’ books. Harper Collins has announced its plans to publish a series of books for young girls called MacKenzie Blue, in which, according to this New York Times article, “…product placement is very much a part of the plan. Tina Wells, chief executive of Buzz Marketing Group, which advises consumer product companies on how to sell to teenagers and preteenagers, will herself be the author of titles in the series filled with references to brands. She plans to offer the companies that make them the chance to sponsor the books.”
To read about the campaign and to protest the publication of these books, please visit Commercial Alert and take action.