Children’s Book of the Week: Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Red Nose Studio

This is my Earth Day book pick. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it has really grown on me (it’s one of those books that has been helped rather than hurt by the fact that Eli wants it read to him every 20 minutes). It tells the true (albeit heartily embellished) story of over 3 tons of garbage from Islip, NY, that, in 1987, had no where to go. So some businessmen decided to toss it all on a garbage barge and tow it to North Carolina. Where it was rejected. And then it was towed all over the coast, all the way down to Belize, where it was turned back at every port, until it was finally towed back to New York, where it tooled around the harbor for the summer, until Islip was forced to take it back.

A huge part of this book’s appeal is in the illustrations, which are elaborate hand-built sets made of clay, fabric, and, well, various garbagey bits. But the kids also definitely get the point. They like the humor in the story, but they understand that there’s a reason not to just throw things out, because you’re just contributing to garbage-barge-incident kinds of problems. I appreciate that this gets an earth-friendly theme across without being all sanctimonious and obvious about it. Mostly it’s a fun story with great pictures, and then, at the end, you do think about where all that stuff you throw in the bin under the kitchen sink goes.

Comments (3)

  1. Anne April 19, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I didn’t know Red Nose Studio had done a kids’ book! Must get. We’ve worked with them on our magazines a few times, and their stuff is just amazing.

  2. Christina April 22, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Fun! What’s Zuzu reading? Can you do a book of the week for younger ones at some point?- I’d love to hear what you recommend for the toddler- 2 year old set.

  3. Julie April 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Anne, Red Nose Studio also did some other book called “The Look Book” which I haven’t seen. The stuff in “Garbage Barge” is really amazing.

    Christina, I’ve been trying to come up with what Zuzu’s reading, what books she loves, and so much of it is so influenced by Henry and Eli that I’m not sure how indicative it is of typical 22-month-old book loves. But she still loves all the Leslie Patricelli books (Yummy Yucky, etc), and all the Byron Barton vehicle board books. She loves Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library. There’s an Usborne book called something like “At Home” (oh, it has been mercifully updated — I’m assuming they took out the cassette player and VCR and the like — and has a new edition that she’s pretty into). But mostly honestly it seems like she picks up about anything on the shelf and brings it over, and we read it, and she likes it.

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