McCarthy again tackles an unusual subject: a garbage barge that traveled for over 6,000 miles.
With 3,186 tons of trash from New York, the barge with its accompanying tugboat went from Long Island to waters near North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana in the U.S. and then Mexico, Belize, and the Bahamas, before heading back to New York when all of these places refused to let the barge land. Major newscasters (represented in the author/illustrator’s usual style with large eyes and little, lopsided mouths) reported on the barge’s travels for months. The person who set the trip in motion, Lowell Harrelson, wanted to “let the steaming, oozing heap of garbage decompose, thus creating methane—and then energy!” Acrylic paintings, sometimes scenic, sometimes amusing, are mostly but not exclusively peopled by white males, with an occasional female newscaster and the Queens borough president, the first woman to hold that office. Although the monthslong incident was treated as a running joke in the media, there are lasting results. People became more aware of recycling, something that Greenpeace encouraged by unfurling a large banner on the barge, pictured in a double-paged spread. Backmatter includes recycling project photos and recycling facts, but many adults may wish for additional practical information as well.
The topic alone may interest some individual readers, but this book will be most useful for teachers to use in environmental projects. (author’s note, facts, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-11)