One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

One Plastic Bag61EOyyzSCzLOne Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

Miranda Paul, Author

Elizabeth Zunon, Illustrator

Millbrook Press, Nonfiction, Feb. 1, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Isatou Ceesay, Gambia, West Africa, Plastic bags, Pollution, Recycling

Opening: Isatou walks with her chin frozen. Fat raindrops pelt her bare arms. Her face hides in the shadow of  a palm-leaf basket, and her neck stings with every step.

Synopsis: As a girl, Isatou watches the people of her village carry items in plastic bags. When the bags tear, they toss them in the dirt.  The bags accumulate in heaps. They become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and disease. They impact the crops.  Goats rummage through the smelly bags for food. When her grandmother’s goats die from eating bags, Isatou knows she must do something. Now a woman, she begins to collect the dirty bags, washes them with omo soap and hangs them on a line to dry. Some of her friends begin to help. Others mock her. She comes up with an idea to recycle the bags into something useful. She and her friends crochet them into plastic purses, sell them in the market for a profit and help their community.

Why I like this book:

  • Miranda Paul skillfully captures this inspiring and true story of Isatou Ceesay and the women of Njau, Gambia, who are on a mission to recycle discarded and dangerous plastic bags to save their village.
  • The text is simple and lyrical. The story is character driven. The West African setting is realistic and the plot completely engaging for children. Children will grasp the importance of recycling and be intrigued by Ceesay’s solution.
  • It carries a strong message for children about how one person can see a problem, find a solution and make a difference in their community.
  • The story also shows how a group of women can create a product, make a profit, improve their own lives and help their village.
  • This is an excellent book for classrooms and youth groups, especially with Earth Day on April 22.
  • Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations are warm and richly textured with cut-outs that form a collage of beauty. She also creates a colorful collage of plastic bags for the end papers of the book. Visit Zunon at her website.

Resources: There is a very informative Author’s Note from Miranda Paul, a timeline of events, a glossary of words, and suggested reading. Visit the One Plastic Bag website for worksheets and a teacher’s guide. There is a special 2015 Earth Day Contest for kids Pre-K through 8th grade. Entries must be received by May 7, 2015. The contest is now open.

Miranda Paul has traveled to Gambia as a volunteer teacher, a fair-trade and literacy advocate, and freelance journalist.  She has another book, Water is Water, due out in May 2015.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

29 thoughts on “One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

  1. Another great book to teach children about other cultures and recycling. I love these sort of books. Isatou sounds like a resourceful and clever girl. A good role modal.


  2. This looks like a wonderful book. In our shop, we like to have books that tell the stories behind products that we sell so this one will go well next to the handbags we have that are made from recycled materials. Thanks for once again alerting us to a book we need to carry!


    • That’s amazing that you have handbags that are made from recycled materials in your shop. The book is perfect for you. I know you will love it! And there is an Earth Day contest kids can participate in on the website.


  3. Wow! What an important book! I love your selections. And I Love the reasons you love this book. Seems so authentic and ones I would pick too. I Love that it is a true book about a girl who found a way to be useful in her culture and society. Another young entrepruener.

    Thanks so much for introducing this book to us, Patricia! 🙂


  4. I wondered who would be the first to add this gem to our PPBF list. And great idea to link it to Earth Day next month.


  5. LOVE this! You have found the perfect piece for Earth Day and beyond. Thank you, thank you. My daughter is SO in to going green and conserving our resource to protect the environment. Sure wish it’d have been around when she was younger.


    • It is such an important book perfect for Earth Day this year. But, it’s so much more than that. Make sure you check out the Earth Day Contest Miranda Paul has on her website. Glad you like it!


  6. I have this book but have yet to read it…I keep borrowing a large number of books from the library and reading them first (because I have to return them) so I keep putting off reading the books I own. :} I really can’t wait to read this, though.


  7. Pingback: Water Is Water | Children's Books Heal

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