What Happens to Our Trash?


Winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Science Books & Films Prize for Outstanding Science Series

Let's-Read-and-Find-Out about Garbage

People in the United States make more trash per person every day than people in any other country.

What do we throw away, and where ...

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Winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Science Books & Films Prize for Outstanding Science Series

Let's-Read-and-Find-Out about Garbage

People in the United States make more trash per person every day than people in any other country.

What do we throw away, and where does it go?

How can we reduce, reuse, and recycle?

Read and find out!

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Engaging prose and upbeat, gently humorous illustrations introduce the importance of proper trash disposal and recycling. Landfills and their usefulness are fully explained, as is the concept of reduce/reuse/recycle. Children are given ideas for composting, and a related activity page is appended. The language is clear and friendly. Cartoon pictures show enthusiastic youngsters doing their part to handle trash responsibly. Even the anthropomorphic cats and dogs are smiling and encouraging. Endpapers offer fast facts: "Disposable diapers take 500 years to decompose"; "84 percent of all household waste can be recycled," etc. Pair this book with M. J. Knight's Why Should I Recycle Garbage? (Smart Apple Media, 2008) for even more practical ideas. Perfect for classes just beginning to study environmental concerns.—Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI
Children's Literature - Jill Walton
Who would have thought that the subject of trash would be such a captivating read for the primary grades? As one in the "Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science" series, this picture book pulls young readers in with the relaxing artwork and the variation of text format. The end papers of facts and statistics about all of the waste that the United States produces are presented as if children might have drawn the pictures and hand written the sentences. The end papers prepare readers for the book's focus and hammer home the impact of our trash. Beginning with a garbage can's contents, the author asks the reader, "What do you throw away?" The purpose of landfills for disposing of trash is defined. Landfill illustrations and text show the development, construction and maintenance of a landfill, the use of methane gas produced by landfills and the disposing of hazardous trash safely in landfills. E-waste recycling possibilities are suggested and recycling plant waste is addressed in a short section on "how to compost." Ward's purpose is to educate and encourage children in primary grades to participate in trash control and it emphasizes the need for everyone to "reduce, reuse, and recycle" to protect the environment. Students will gain a broad spectrum of what happens when enormous quantities of trash are thrown away and what happens when trash is recycled. Familiarity of some of the information reduces the intimidation of all the statistics. The science presented, i.e. methane gas used as fuel, is an advanced concept. The book's focus on our trash challenges students to explore concepts and the artwork is the hook. Reviewer: Jill Walton
Kirkus Reviews
This low-pressure look at public-waste disposal and small-scale recycling avoids controversy in favor of consciousness-raising. "An average kitchen-size bag of trash contains enough energy to light a 100-watt lightbulb for more than 24 hours." Endpapers open and close with this and other unsourced but probably in-the-ballpark statistics. The book proper begins with a basic definition of "trash" and moves on to descriptions and tidy cartoon views of landfills and of collection sites for batteries and other hazardous household waste, then concludes with a few simple suggestions for reducing, reusing and recycling. Meisel's sunny scenes of adults and children playing in a park laid over a landfill, re-using paper goods, presenting eco-science projects and watching garbage trucks roll by reflect the relaxed tone of Ward's discourse. If topics like garbage-dump–related groundwater pollution and health issues or industrial- and nuclear-waste disposal receive scant or no attention, newly independent readers will at least come away with the basic notion that reducing trash production is a good idea. This latest entry in the venerable Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series lays some groundwork for promoting responsible use of resources. Save the strident and scarier appeals for later. (website list, composting instructions) (Informational picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061687556
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Series: Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Series: Stage 2
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 383,094
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.60 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

D. J. Ward is a high school science teacher who also writes science books for children. His titles include Exploring Mars and Materials Science. He lives in Elizabeth, Colorado.

Paul Meisel has illustrated many books for children, including Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?, Energy Makes Things Happen, and What Happens to Our Trash? in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series. He lives in Newtown, Connecticut.

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