The Blue Giant

The Blue Giant
Katie Cottle
Pavilion Books

Picture book messages about helping to save the environment come in all shapes and forms.

In Katie Cottle’s second eco-story the messenger takes the form of an enormous wave that suddenly rises up out of the sea just as Meera and her mother are settling down for a relaxing day on the beach.

This blue giant urgently wants to communicate with them and its message is a vital one asking for their help.
Donning their diving suits and following in their small boat, mother and daughter pursue the wave and discover that the ocean is awash with rubbish of all kinds and that many sea creatures are in great danger.

After a day of hard work a great deal remains to be done to clear up the pollution – way too much for just two people.

The following morning Meera is back on the beach and the next, but now she has enlisted the help of some of her friends.

They in turn enlist some of theirs and so it continues …

The narrative concludes with a list of half a dozen suggested ways in which we can all help by reducing our consumption of single-use plastics.

Katie’s powerful images convey the plastic pollution problem in a manner that young children will easily relate to, particularly those of the sea creatures caught up in the debris. Stories such as this one are a great way to galvanise youngsters into action.

A Planet Full of Plastic

A Planet Full of Plastic
Neal Layton
Wren & Rook

Neal Layton has created an absolutely superb information book on a topic that’s on many people’s minds at present.

Right away he addresses the reader with ‘Quick question: do you ever think about what things are made of? ’ and goes on to mention other materials such as metal, wood, glass and paper before focussing in on plastic; plastic in all its shapes, colours and sizes.

We learn about the discovery of the material by chemist Mr Baekeland and how rapidly it became enthusiastically used in pretty much anything you might think of.

Plastic in the places it should be is all well and good, but the trouble is it doesn’t biodegrade and therein lies the problem. (Neal explains what this means with two sequences of strip pictures)

What eventually happens is that much of this plastic finds its way into our oceans

where it creates big problems for the marine animals as well as forming massive garbage patches in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, especially in the form of toxic microplastic particles.

All of us need to cut down on our use of plastic, especially that used only once,  is what we’re powerfully reminded here …

Neal’s narrative style is perfectly pitched for the intended audience – there’s not a scrap of preachiness about it – and his mixed media illustrations are a powerful reminder of the ubiquitous problems of plastic waste.

Children and young people care deeply about the environment as they’ve already demonstrated and the book concludes with a ‘How you can help section’.

If the government is really serious about the environment, and in particular the terrible effects of throwaway plastic, then perhaps they should fund a copy of this timely book for all primary schools and nurseries.