Inspired to Take Action with ‘The Mess That We Made’
Author: Michelle Lord
Illustrator: Julia Blattman
Publisher: Flashlight Press
Landfills Piled High Spilling Into The Oceans
The Mess That We Made, by Michelle Lord and Julia Blattman, begins with four children in a small boat floating in the middle of a massive, patch of garbage in the ocean. As the waste swirls around them, we see fish eating plastic bottle caps before being gobbled up by seals and fishing nets and plastic grocery bags tangling around seals and sea turtles. Then, we’re shown where all of this waste that’s drifted out to sea is coming from; a landfill growing by the day sits on a nearby shoreline, spilling into the ocean.
The Mess That We Made is written in a cumulative tale format, when the dialogue repeats and builds up as the story progresses. I personally really enjoy this format as it’s great for young children since they love the repetitive, predictable nature of the story.
“This is the boat of welded steal, that dumps the net, that catches the seal, that eats the fish that swim in the mess that we made.”The Mess That We Made by Michelle Lord and Julia Blattman
Where Does Our Trash Go? How Does It End Up In The Ocean?
Helping your child understand the bigger picture and the impact waste has on our planet has never been easier with The Mess That We Made. If your little one has ever seen the garbage truck pulling away and wondered where trash goes once we throw it away, this is just the book to begin with.
Author Michelle Ward’s picture book shines a light on environmentalism and is sure to inspire the next generation. Loaded with educational facts about the Eastern and Western garbage patches, this book will encourage families to talk about and tackle waste reduction and recycling in their own homes.
Not only was The Mess That We Made an incredible learning experience for my child, but I learned so much more than I ever knew about the trash in our oceans and the impact it has on animals and the environment. What particularly stood out for me were the world maps featuring the locations of the garbage patches in our oceans and how the currents carry and deposit the trash in these areas.
“This is the landfill, growing each day, that spills the plastic, thrown away, that traps the turtle, green and gray, that rides the current through the bay, that roacks the boat of welded steel…”The Mess That We Made by Michelle Lord and Julia Blattman
Make A Difference Right Now
While the story paints a grim picture, the storyline shifts to explain how people can make a difference to reduce waste and clean up the ocean. My favourite part about this picture book is the list of ‘Calls to Action’ on the last couple of pages. There are tangible ideas you and your child can implement right away to make a difference. For example bringing reusable bags when shopping, drinking from reusable water bottles, and using biodegradable cutlery and straws instead of plastic.
Colourful Illustrations, Filled With Details
I just love illustrator Julia Blattman’s work and it absolutely shines in The Mess That We Made. Blattman’s use of layers combined with strategic highlighting and shading draw the eye to the focal point of each image. At the same time, each page is filled with dozens of small details for children to pour over and explore. For example, the waters are glittering shades of purple and blue with little flecks of plastic swirling around as a sea turtle swims about; but if you linger on the page and look deeper into the background, you can see fishing nets floating around, plastic bottles stuck in the coral reef, and the shadow of a massive fishing boat overhead.
The Mess That We Made will inspire children to become stewards of the earth and make a change for the better. This picture book is a fantastic resource for children to understand where our trash goes when we throw it away. It also gives some simple changes children and their families can implement at home to help contribute to a greener earth and reduce the size of our landfills. I would definitely recommend The Mess That We Made for your bookshelf.
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