The Mess That We Made
Michelle Lord, Author
Julia Blattman, Illustrator
Flashlight Press, Nonfiction, Jan. 1, 2020
Suitable for ages: 5-7
Themes: Oceans, Pollution, Marine Life, Call to Action, Environmentalism
Opening: “THIS is the mess that we made.”
Join four children in a little boat as they discover the magnitude of The Mess That We Made. With rhythmic language and captivating art, this cumulative tale portrays the terrible impact of trash on the ocean and marine life, inspiring us to make changes to save our seas.
Includes a back section with facts about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, ocean pollution, and Calls to Action for kids and grown‑ups to share.
Why I like this book:
Michelle Lord doesn’t shy away from showing children a realistic view of what is occuring in our oceans, particularly the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But it also is an inspiring call to action for readers that is hopeful and empowering. Julia Blattman’s colorful and beautiful illustrations will capture children’s imaginations.
The snappy text is set to the familiar nursery rhyme The House That Jack Built, with each of the stanzas ending with “the mess that we made.” First half of the books sets the scene about what is happening to the marine life that are being hurt by the plastics and trash that humans dump into the ocean. “This is the plastic, thrown away, / that traps the turtle, green and gray, / that rides the current through the bay, / that rocks the boat of welded steel, / that dumps the net, / that catches the seal, / that eats the fish / that swim in the mess that we made.” The second half enourages readers to take action, beginning with a beach clean-up day.
Lord’s has done an exceptional amount research for her educational book. Make sure you check out the back matter where she elaborates on each of the repeated phrases, describing how each animal is affected by pollution, and why plastics are particularly problematic. At the bottom of each topic she suggests ways children can begin to make a difference: using reusable bags, disposing trash in proper recyling bins, using recyclable straws, and drinking from reusable water bottles. A third page focuses on solutions and activities. And check out the back end pages for a map of the Ocean Garbage Patches.
This may seem like a heavy topic, but it is one that children will want to get involved in. They will see the way that they can be helpful. It deserves a place in every school library/classroom.
Resources: This is a perfect classroom book where kids can talk about the problem, take action at school and home to make sure they are helping to reduce pollution. And there are many clean-ups that take place to remove trash from beaches, rivers, lakes and neighborhoods. Check out the Flashlight Press website for even more resources.
Michelle Lord is the author of several books for children including Paterson Prize Honor Book A Song for Cambodia, Nature Recycles, and Animal School: What Classe are You? She lives with her family in New Braunfels, TX.
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 website.
*Reviewed from a library copy.