This illustrated nonfiction book covers the environmental impacts and life cycles of different familiar materials such as paper, plastic, metals, as well as the less-familiar space waste.
Backed by colorful drawings by Slavin, Fyvie explores eight different materials, describing how they are created, used, and disposed of and/or recycled and how to lessen the effects of waste on the Earth. She appeals to young readers, using approachable topics such as the use of plastics in the manufacture of action figures and dolls. The text is peppered with interesting anecdotes, including one about Paraguay’s children’s “Landfillharmonic” orchestra, which performs music on instruments made of found, recycled objects. The author explains commonplace things readers may not fully understand, such as the recycling number system on plastics, outlined in a handy chart. While amusing, the illustrations look like dated comics, and diagrams of processes are not always so easy to parse. Some include unhelpful exaggerated images, such as a drawing of a worker using a giant U-shaped magnet during the aluminum recycling process. In other instances, what should be an intuitive flowchart becomes a frustrating exercise in following the numbers. The book closes by looking to the future for ways to become a zero-waste world. Heeding its own lesson, the book is printed on 100 percent recycled paper.
While the book includes some hard-to-follow diagrams, the content is both approachable and interesting, and it leaves readers with a sense of responsibility for the Earth’s future. (glossary, index, further information) (Nonfiction. 10-13)