TOTAL GARBAGE

A MESSY DIVE INTO TRASH, WASTE, AND OUR WORLD

A fact-filled and fascinating dumpster dive of a book.

A study of trash, past, present, and future.

Brief descriptions of a “trash museum” and a library of discarded books introduce this entertaining but hard-hitting look at what we toss, where it goes, and how we can do better. Focusing throughout on Europe and the Americas, Donnelly misses the chance to compare 19th-century U.S. “waste-pickers” to children picking trash today in India or South Africa. But she produces mounds of data, makes connections to various cultures throughout history, art, and archaeology, and raises crucial questions about environmental values, capitalism and profit motives, and the future. Making the topic personal, Donnelly addresses readers directly. Depressing statistics and sections discussing the consequences of irresponsibly disposing of waste, as well as environmental justice and racism (people of color and impoverished communities are disproportionately affected by issues with garbage), are gloomy, but Donnelly’s clear, engaging writing also lights up the many pages on health, science, and human behavior, on positive actions that families and communities can take, and on industrial responsibility (but none on U.S. government regulatory authority or fossil fuel subsidies). Whimsical, informative, detailed teal-tone line drawings add to a captivating and important book.

A fact-filled and fascinating dumpster dive of a book. (author’s note, timeline, selected resources) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250760388

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

ISAAC NEWTON

From the Giants of Science series

Hot on the heels of the well-received Leonardo da Vinci (2005) comes another agreeably chatty entry in the Giants of Science series. Here the pioneering physicist is revealed as undeniably brilliant, but also cantankerous, mean-spirited, paranoid and possibly depressive. Newton’s youth and annus mirabilis receive respectful treatment, the solitude enforced by family estrangement and then the plague seen as critical to the development of his thoughtful, methodical approach. His subsequent squabbles with the rest of the scientific community—he refrained from publishing one treatise until his rival was dead—further support the image of Newton as a scientific lone wolf. Krull’s colloquial treatment sketches Newton’s advances in clearly understandable terms without bogging the text down with detailed explanations. A final chapter on “His Impact” places him squarely in the pantheon of great thinkers, arguing that both his insistence on the scientific method and his theories of physics have informed all subsequent scientific thought. A bibliography, web site and index round out the volume; the lack of detail on the use of sources is regrettable in an otherwise solid offering for middle-grade students. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-05921-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK BOY

Ultimately adds little to conversations about race.

A popular YouTube series on race, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” turns how-to manual and history lesson for young readers.

Acho is a former NFL player and second-generation Nigerian American who cites his upbringing in predominantly White spaces as well as his tenure on largely Black football teams as qualifications for facilitating the titular conversations about anti-Black racism. The broad range of subjects covered here includes implicit bias, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism. Each chapter features brief overviews of American history, personal anecdotes of Acho’s struggles with his own anti-Black biases, and sections titled “Let’s Get Uncomfortable.” The book’s centering of Whiteness and White readers seems to show up, to the detriment of its subject matter, both in Acho’s accounts of his upbringing and his thought processes regarding race. The overall tone unfortunately conveys a sense of expecting little from a younger generation who may have a greater awareness than he did at the same age and who, therefore, may already be uncomfortable with racial injustice itself. The attempt at an avuncular tone disappointingly reads as condescending, revealing that, despite his online success with adults, the author is ill-equipped to be writing for middle-grade readers. Chapters dedicated to explaining to White readers why they shouldn’t use the N-word and how valuable White allyship is may make readers of color (and many White readers) bristle with indignation and discomfort despite Acho’s positive intentions.

Ultimately adds little to conversations about race. (glossary, FAQ, recommended reading, references) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80106-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2021

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