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Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

by Jonah Winter, Red Nose Studio (Illustrator)

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This New York Times Best Illustrated Book is a mostly true and completely stinky story that is sure to make you say, “Pee-yew!” Teaching environmental awareness has become a national priority, and this hilarious book (subtly) drives home the message that we can’t produce unlimited trash without consequences.

Before everyone recycled . . .


This New York Times Best Illustrated Book is a mostly true and completely stinky story that is sure to make you say, “Pee-yew!” Teaching environmental awareness has become a national priority, and this hilarious book (subtly) drives home the message that we can’t produce unlimited trash without consequences.

Before everyone recycled . . .
There was a town that had 3,168 tons of garbage and nowhere to put it.
What did they do?
Enter the Garbage Barge!

Amazing art built out of junk, toys, and found objects by Red Nose Studio makes this the perfect book for Earth Day or any day, and photos on the back side of the jacket show how the art was created.
Here Comes the Garbage Barge was a New York Times Best Illustrated book of 2010, a Huffington Post Best Picture Book of the Year, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. The Washington Post said, “Cautionary? Yes. Hilarious? You betcha!” and the New York Times Book Review raved, “[A] glorious visual treat.”

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, January 2010: "This title should be a part of every elementary school ecology unit."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, January 11, 2010: "Funky in every sense of the word."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2010: "A stinky story never seemed so sweet ... [a] fantastic combination of text and image."

Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 2010: "[P]acked with visual delights."

Review, The New York Times Book Review, November 7, 2010: "[A] glorious visual treat."

Review, The Washington Post, March 21, 2010: "Cautionary? Yes. Hilarious? You betcha!"

Review, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2010: "Here comes the Garbage Barge! tells the story in wonderfully colorful language and inventive claymation-style illustrations."

Review, Chicago Sun-Times, April 18, 2010: "As compelling as the story is, so are the unusual illustrations."

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This fictionalized version of a real garbage saga begins with the 3,168 tons of garbage that the city of Islip, New York must put somewhere. A "guy in the garbage business" arranges for a friend to put it on a barge. Cap'm Duff's tugboat will take it to North Carolina where some farmers can bury it, but a police boat prevents them from landing there. Thus begins the long, unsuccessful voyage of the tugboat and barge from North Carolina to New Orleans, Mexico, Belize, Texas, and Florida, becoming famous as it grows ever smellier and is resisted at every port. Unwelcome when it returns to the New York area, the garbage is finally incinerated 162 days after its voyage started. What is left is returned to Islip. Cap'm Duffy, after traveling over 6,000 mile, can finally go home. The front of the cover dramatically introduces the captain on his tugboat with the overloaded barge he is pulling on the back. The illustrations combine photographs of real garbage with line art, three-dimensional sets, and comically modeled characters; inside the jacket are the step-by-step instructions for how these were made. All sorts of garbage are shown floating in the sea on the front end papers; this contrasts with the pristine sea on the back pages. The double-page scenes in between combine the breezy comic text with the photos of the very expressive sculptured characters in the appropriate settings. A factual note is added; the message is clear. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Karen Schoemer
Here Comes the Garbage Barge!…doesn't hide its Oscar the Grouch-style affection for trash. The illustrator, Chris Sickels of the Red Nose Studio in Indiana, ingeniously employs found materials to construct 3-D sculptures, which he then photo­graphs in front of luminous painted backdrops…Here Comes the Garbage Barge! is a glorious visual treat…
—The New York Times
Kristi Jemtegaard
This fable, based on an actual incident in 1987, has its plasticized tongue planted firmly in its polymer cheek…Cautionary? Yes. Hilarious? You betcha!
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The message is the medium in this zany fictionalized version of the 1987 story of a garbage-laden barge that left Long Island for North Carolina after local landfills closed. To create the book’s innovative artwork, Red Nose Studio, aka artist Chris Sickels, photographed sets he fashioned from recycled materials, found objects, and garbage (the characters are made from acrylic clay). He chronicles this process on the inside of the jacket—a crafty double use of paper in keeping with the theme. Winter’s (Barack) bombastic narrative exposes the folly of the six-month journey, as the “Cap’m” of the tug pulling the stinky barge is turned away from port after port. Winter revels in dialogue throughout (“Dere’s dis guy down in Mexico—he owes me a favor,” the captain’s boss tells him), and the artwork is equally gleeful (in Florida, elderly residents floating in inner tubes angrily shake their fists, refusing to let the barge dock). Though kids aren’t likely to miss the message, a sign on a buoy shouts it out: “Moral: Don’t make so much garbage!!!” Funky in every sense of the word. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—A fictionalized account of real events that occurred in 1987, this story will convince young readers to take their recycling efforts more seriously. When Islip, NY, has nowhere to put 3168 tons of garbage, the town officials decide that shipping them south is the right thing to do, so a tugboat towing a garbage-laden barge takes it to North Carolina. But North Carolina won't allow the vessel to dock. It goes on to New Orleans, but again is denied harbor rights. Then it is on to Mexico, Belize, Texas, Florida, and back to New York. The garbage is ripening all along the way. Now even Islip refuses to take it back. Finally a judge orders Brooklyn to take it and incinerate it, 162 days after the barge started its journey. Islip is ordered to take the remains to their landfill. The illustrations are photographs of objects made from garbage. The people, full of personality and expression, were made from polymer clay, and wire, wood scraps, and leftover materials of all kinds were used for the tugboat and barge. The inside of the paper jacket explains how the art was done. This title should be a part of every elementary school ecology unit.—Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
A stinky story never seemed so sweet. Winter tackles the true-life tale of the 1987 Garbage Barge fiasco in this entirely amusing mix of fact and fiction. When the city of Islip on Long Island ends up with too much garbage, some businessmen (merged into a single character here named Gino Stroffolino) decide the best solution is to ship it to a distant Southern contact. Trouble arises when the barge and stalwart Cap'm Duffy St. Pierre find themselves turned away at every port. From North Carolina to Mexico, from New Orleans to Belize, nobody wants the garbage-all 3,168 tons of it. The author has fun with this story, and his jovial tall-tale tone is well complemented by the eye-popping clay models provided by Red Nose Studio. The garbage in this book doesn't just stink-it oozes and melts in the hot summer sun. A fantastic combination of text and image, this is sure to give the barge and story the infamy they deserve for a generation far too young to recall either the actual incident or the bad old days before we all recycled. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
11.70(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.40(d)
AD670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Jonah Winter is the author of You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!, Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World, and Dizzy, all of which received multiple starred reviews. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Red Nose Studio creates eccentric worlds of sculptural and 3-D illustrations. Red Nose Studio’s illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

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