This nonfiction book for middle graders covers everything from how plastic is made to its environmental impacts.
The “plastic problem” itself is a big, sticky one, but this well-organized and concise approach makes the topic digestible. Salt conveys a sense of urgency without bias, beginning with a simple explanation of how plastic is made—complete with a helpful chart comparing a paperclip chain to polymers—and ending with a call to action. She makes the topic accessible to young readers by including information about such topics as Lego bricks and a fascinating section that answers the question “Is there plastic in me?” Salt discusses the realities of global waste-management disparities, deftly explaining how the trash of a rich economy becomes the pollution problem of a vulnerable one. The book is visually appealing, with photographs—some quite modern and artful—alongside illustrations. Unhelpfully, however, the photographs that appear to be of actual places aren’t always labeled clearly. The sidebars are purposeful and flow nicely. A particular standout compares plastic nurdles—tiny bits of plastic shipped around the globe to be made into any number of different plastic products—and herring fish eggs, difficult to distinguish for humans and hungry birds alike. The book closes with concrete steps readers can take to make a dent in the problem.
A well-paced, current look at a major global issue with high visual interest and reader appeal. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)