Monday, February 2, 2015

One Plastic Bag: More Than a Picture Book! by Kathy Halsey

ONE PLASTIC BAG: ISATOU CEESAY AND THE RECYCLING WOMEN OF THE GAMBIA by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, is more than an informational picture book. It's collaboration and celebration; a lesson in sustainability; a lesson for picture book writers to immerse themselves in craft and best practices, too. 


Collaboration & Sustainability
The women who brought this book to fruition have many talents that are woven together by the shared passion of making difference for our environment and for our children. Isatou, a Gambian woman, began to view the utilitarian plastic bag at a threat to the beauty of Njau, her home. Along with five other women, she washed, crocheted, and transformed these bags into purses. Isatou's call for solutions led to an economic engine that continues to make a difference. Earnings from the plastic purses funded a community center focused on literacy and empowerment, a true cause for celebration.

Isatou and Miranda
Elizabeth at work in the studio
Miranda's path to Gambia and her debut picture book One Plastic Bag began when she traveled there in 2003 to volunteer and teach. On Miranda's third visit, she finally met Isatou and the women who inspired her to write her debut book. Miranda has been involved in environmental issues since she was young, and her picture book and web site engage readers to consider the consequences of one person, one plastic bag and what one more voice/ call to action can produce.
 Now add the third creative woman, illustrator Elizabeth Zunon, who grew up in West Africa and graduated from RISD, and there is powerful magic. Elizabeth incorporates real plastic bags & cut-up magazines in her mixed media collages and children's book illustrations. The efforts of all these creative women make ONE PLASTIC BAG a book that can be used by scouting troops, teachers, and parents alike.

  •  ONE PLASTIC BAG is great study for picture book writers, too.  The first page of text introduces us immediately to the main character Isatou and the setting We know our MC is cold and uncomfortable, and the scene uses sensory details other than sight to  transport the reader to Njau.  
  •  The simple refrain of "one, two, then ten" begins on page 7 and does not change until the solution to the conflict begins. "One friend helps, then two, then five."




  •  The  problems the Gambian people face with plastic is laid out in threes: the ugliness, goats dying; mosquitoes. 
  •  Authentic vocabulary from Wolof is used sparingly and simply. Miranda imparts information in sprinkles for a young audience.
  •  The pages turns at the end are so powerful, and the final solution and picture of happy goats and a clean environment grace the last page.  
  •  Interesting, educational back matter begins w/the author's note which personalizes the story. Then the Wolof Glossary and pronunciation guide, timeline, and further reading are provided.  


It is no wonder ONE PLATIC BAG: ISATOU CESSAY AND THE RECYCLING WOMEN OF THE GAMBIA has debuted to acclaim and star reviews! Bravo Miranda, Isatou, and Elizabeth! First one, then two, now YOU can add your comments about this true story!







33 comments:

  1. Great review, Kathy, and a marvelous book. I keep mine on the kitchen counter for its vivid colors and to remind me of taking steps to recycle.

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    1. Sherri, I use it to remind me of all those plastic bags I use for doggie waste...

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    2. I'm so glad my book reminds you of this. And Elizabeth's amazing, vivid illustrations make the story come to life. Thanks to Kathy for writing this magnificent post!

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  2. Three good things today: Isatou Ceesay's work, Miranda's book, your review. Happy Groundhog birthday, Kathy!

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    1. Pat Miller, Ty for the wishes and for stopping by here.

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    2. Hi Pat! Thank you for stopping by. Happy groundhog birthday!

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  3. Excellent article and review! love the book

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  4. What a great story on so many levels. I am inspired by Miranda and her mission to share this important message. It confirms how one book can change the world for the better!

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    1. Danielle, TY for stopping by. This book is a winner on so many levels.

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  5. Very smart review; I like how you've highlighted key details without truly giving the book away. This just confirms for me that stories are out there, you just have to find them; Miranda's powerful connection to the place comes out in the book and even in your review. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    TB

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    1. Todd, I appreciate it. I worked hard on this post an this book just shines, doesn't it.

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    2. Here's to finding more great stories and writing them for the world to read! Thanks, Todd!

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  6. What a terrific collaboration of talent that brings readers this important message! Looking forward to getting a copy of your book, Miranda. And thank you, Kathy, for pointing out its great picture book elements.

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    1. Patty, you are very welcome and you are always such a great support.

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  7. This message is so important. Thanks, Miranda, for presenting it so well, and Kathy for the interesting review! Like Kathy, I use plastic bags for poop patrol. Wish I didn't but don't know how else to do the job. Anyone have a better idea?

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    1. We will have to think on this problem, Sydney.

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    2. I've had friends who use biodegradable pet waste bags. I don't have dogs myself, but I did come across this site: http://biobagusa.com/products/retail-products/pet-waste-products-retail/

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  8. Great write-up of the book, Kathy! Just added it to my wish list.

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    1. TY, Tina. YOU will love this book.

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    2. Hope you enjoy it, Tina! It's available now on Kindle as well so you can download it if a physical copy isn't in the cards. Thanks!

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  9. What a great and inspiring interview! Reminds me of the types of items I've seen at "10,000 Villages". Putting the book on my wish list too.

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    1. Yes, the whole idea was to get folks to read the book.

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    2. Yes, Laura - this is a fair-trade cooperative. Make sure to tell your local fair trade store owners about the book! Thank you!

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  10. Well done, Kathy! A great review of a terrific book.

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    1. Deborah, I appreciate you stopping by at the GROG.

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  11. Powerful and inspiring book. Nicely summarized Kathy!

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    1. Why, thanks, Cathy. It is great to pull part a great book and see what we can learn as writers.

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  12. Three cheers for Miranda, Elizabeth, and Isatou for an amazing story that offers a solution to a concern for our environment.

    And one more cheer for Kathy for sharing this post about the book, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Cessay and the Recycling Women of Gambia.

    ~Suzy

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  13. Beautiful - Kathy & Miranda & Elizabeth & Isatou . Appreciations for helping make this World seem smaller & the people more connected in caring. I love this post.

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