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

Miranda Paul, illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. Lerner/Millbrook, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-1608-6
One woman’s efforts to rid her Gambian village of trash sparks a recycling movement in this uplifting tale inspired by true events. As a girl, Isatou admired the colors and myriad uses of the plastic bags that began to proliferate in her community. But years later, the same plastic bags, festering in trash heaps or floating through the air, have become a menace to humans and animals. Compelled to make her home beautiful, Isatou gathers the bags, cleans them, and crochets them into purses. She teaches other women to do the same, and an ecologically-minded enterprise is born. Notes of hope, determination, and empowerment suffuse Paul’s story, which the author explains was informed by her volunteer work as a teacher in the Gambia. Incorporating real plastic bags into her mixed-media collages, Zunon, who grew up in West Africa, juxtaposes the brown, dusty landscape against splashes of color and vibrant printed dresses and head coverings worn by the village women. A glossary and list of suggested reading are included. Ages 5–9. Author’s agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/22/2014
Release date: 02/01/2015
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