cover image Bag in the Wind

Bag in the Wind

Ted Kooser, , illus. by Barry Root. . Candlewick, $17.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3001-0

A plastic bag, “just the color of the skin of a yellow onion,” blows away from a landfill and across a wintry rural landscape. With unadorned realism, captured in former poet laureate Kooser's plainspoken prose and Root's (The Birthday Tree ) copper and slate-gray watercolors and gouache, a girl finds the bag and fills it with aluminum cans, which she takes to a gas station to cash in. Soon the bag meanders on. A traveler, sleepy beside a bridge, lets the bag slip into the water, and in the morning, a homeless woman fishes it out. After the bag ends up at a secondhand store, its journey comes full circle when the girl from earlier buys a baseball glove and ball from the cozy-shabby shop, not recognizing they're put in the same bag she had before, “because it looked just like every other grocery bag in the world.”The reflective message about waste (there's an endnote about recycling plastic bags) is gently balanced against the meditation on the quiet beauty and nobility of objects—and people—that aren't often given a second thought or glance. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)