________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 36. . . .May 26, 2017


What a Waste! Where Does Our Garbage Go?

Claire Eamer. Illustrated by Bambi Edlund.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2017.
89 pp., pbk., hc., html & pdf, $14.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-918-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-919-4 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55451-920-0 (html), ISBN 978-1-55451-921-7 (pdf).

Subject Heading:
Refuse and refuse disposal-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Chloe Humphreys.

***½ /4



Believe it or not, garbage is fascinating stuff. Archaeologists love garbage. Pyramids, cathedrals, and ancient temples tell us how people of the past wanted to be remembered. But their garbage tells us how they really lived. To an expert, a pile of garbage is a newspaper waiting to be read.

Just look at what gets tossed away in your kitchen. That garbage says a lot about how and where your family shops, what you eat, and how you prepare food. You’ll probably find plenty of empty packages—cans and jars, boxes, cellophane wrappers, plastic tubs from yogurt and ice cream, Styrofoam meat trays, and plastic bags. That’s because most of us—in most parts of the world—shop at stores where food is packages and ready to be stuffed into a grocery bag.


Divided into seven comprehensive chapters, What a Waste! tells the fascinating story of garbage. Eamer begins by posing two thought-provoking questions: what is garbage, and where does garbage go once we throw it away? In order to track down the answers, Eamer embarks on an engaging garbage odyssey. Among the myriad of interesting topics covered, readers will trace the history of garbage disposal, learn about dumps and landfills, discover how food and human waste is controlled, and be inspired to think about ways to reduce the mountains of garbage we produce. Smart waste management practices are peppered throughout the text, encouraging young audiences to approach garbage and its management with enthusiasm and curiosity. The book is equally jam-packed with titillating facts for those readers who enjoy gross-out science. These asides include the mention of disco rice (a term referring “to the squirming maggots that thrive in many of [New York City’s] garbage dumpsters”) and a discussion of fatbergs (“rotting mass[es] of congealed fat and household waste” that clog sewers). Edlund’s bright and comical illustrations only enhance the book’s enormous entertainment value. While Eamer also explores serious topics like the dangers of plastic waste, her tone never strays into didactic territory. Instead, the text highlights solutions to the world’s garbage problems and focuses on small ways that children can positively contribute to caring for the environment.

      What a Waste! is an exceedingly informative and delightful book, a must-buy for all Canadian libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Chloe Humphreys is a newly minted librarian with a passion for children’s literature and reading. She works at Vancouver Public Library, and lives in beautiful North Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Next Review | Table of Contents For This Issue - May 26, 2017
CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive