Though Isatou Ceesay’s country may be unfamiliar to young readers, they’ve probably done some handicraft recycling of their...

ONE PLASTIC BAG

ISATOU CEESAY AND THE RECYCLING WOMEN OF THE GAMBIA

Distressed by the problem of plastic-bag disposal, a Gambian woman organizes her neighbors to turn trash into treasure.

When Isatou Ceesay first discovered plastic bags in the Gambia in West Africa, in the 1980s, they seemed wonderfully useful and sturdy. But in her village, they soon became a nuisance, piling up in ugly dump areas where mosquitoes bred. Goats ate them and died. Her solution was to collect and clean used bags, cut them into strips and crochet the strips into useful plastic purses. These were sold at local markets and eventually internationally. Paul, who first went to the Gambia as a volunteer and has returned in other roles, tells this story in a straightforward fashion, deftly including words from the Wolof language and including details about Ceesay’s village life. A map, author’s note, glossary, timeline and excellent suggestions for further reading set this example of a woman who made a difference in a larger context. Fittingly, the collage illustrations make use of colorful papers and plastic bags. These reveal the labor involved and show the women’s joy in the results of their work.

Though Isatou Ceesay’s country may be unfamiliar to young readers, they’ve probably done some handicraft recycling of their own. The easy connection makes this a welcome addition to the small shelf of examples of ingenuity in developing nations. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1608-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Outstanding—a breath of fresh air, just like Rocket herself.

ROCKET SAYS LOOK UP!

Rocket is on a mission…to get her angst-y teen brother to put down his cellphone and look up.

An aspiring astronaut, Rocket makes it a point to set up her telescope and gaze at the stars every night before bedtime. Inspired by Mae Jemison, Rocket, a supercute black girl with braids and a coiffed Afro, hopes to be “the greatest astronaut, star catcher, and space walker who has ever lived.” As the night of the Phoenix meteor shower approaches, Rocket makes fliers inviting everyone in her neighborhood to see the cosmic event at the park. Over the course of her preparations, she shares information about space-shuttle missions, what causes a meteor shower, and when is the best time to see one. Jamal, Rocket’s insufferable older brother, who sports a high-top fade and a hoodie, is completely engrossed in his phone, even as just about everybody in the neighborhood turns up. The bright, digital illustrations are an exuberant celebration of both space and black culture that will simultaneously inspire and ground readers. That the main characters are unapologetically black is made plain through myriad details. Rocket’s mother is depicted cornrowing her daughter’s hair with a wide-toothed comb and hair oil. Gap-toothed Rocket, meanwhile, makes her enthusiasm for space clear in the orange jumpsuit both she and her cat wear—and even Jamal’s excited by the end.

Outstanding—a breath of fresh air, just like Rocket herself. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9442-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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