CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 14. . . .December 4, 2015
Wouldn’t it help the planet if we all took stock of the garbage we created? We’d likely feel very alarmed, nay ashamed, and, therefore, more open to figuring out how to reduce the amount that ends up at the garbage dump or in recycling bins. Because the result of our over packaged, single serving sized consumer culture is mountains of plastic, chemical, paper and food waste that is damaging our water tables, our earth, our water systems and our animal life.
Twin mice Sydney and Simon put our environmental dilemma into focus in Paul A. Reynold’s second book celebrating STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Teaming up again with his own twin brother, author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, Reynolds has written a message book that has enough plot development and humour to make it appealing to young children and very useful as a read-aloud in a classroom teaching setting.
Sydney’s quest begins when she sees a turtle recovering at an aquarium after eating plastic garbage in the ocean. Over the next week, she and her brother track the volumes of garbage unwittingly produced both at school and at home. Their findings would likely mirror those of most modern schools and households. The twins raise their friends’ and family’s consciousness, discover many people who repurposed and recycle along the way (used clothing shops and a junkyard) and have fun with garbage while they learn to reduce its production. They make art, form a band and, to their surprise, get their song about ‘going green’ played on the radio.
Peter H. Reynold’s lively line and watercolour illustrations of the gangly, big eared mice add a delightful element to the feel good narrative. Who can resist a mouse dressed in orange, big round glasses balancing on his over sized nose while he designs a poster on an iPad?
The STEAM theme is only a small part of the plot in this 48 page novel; the STEAM studio is where the students figure out how to use their learning “to make the world a better place.” But the lessons continue as the twins’ irrepressible curiosity initiates further adventures.
The attractive cover, with Sydney drumming on a pot and Simon playing guitar on a converted box of mints, has good eye appeal. Early independent readers will be attracted to the hardcover 5 x 7 format. The size of the book will also make it easy for adult readers to show off the pictures to a large group of children as the story is read-aloud.
Sydney & Simon: Go Green! can be a useful addition to a school or classroom library. Early Years teachers can use it to support a unit on the environment and recycling. It can be a catalyst for a class’s own recycled art projects and add momentum to efforts to reduce the amount of recyclables and garbage created by most of us. As Sydney and Simon learn, we’re all part of the problem, which can’t be solved unless we recognize it and force ourselves to act consistently and continually, each and every day.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg. MB.
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