Saturday, January 4, 2020

Review: The Mess That We Made by Michelle Lord and Julia Blattman

by Michelle Lord
Illustrated by Julia Blattman
Flashlight Press
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

The Mess That We Made explores the environmental impact of trash and plastic on the ocean and marine life, and it inspires kids to do their part to combat pollution. Simple, rhythmic wording builds to a crescendo ("This is the mess that we made. These are the fish that swim in the mess that we made.") and the vibrant digital artwork captures the disaster that is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Children can imagine themselves as one of the four multi-ethnic occupants of the little boat surrounded by swirling plastic in the middle of the ocean, witnessing the cycle of destruction and the harm it causes to plants, animals, and humans. The first half of the book portrays the growing magnitude of the issue, and the second half rallies children and adults to make the necessary changes to save our oceans. Facts about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, ocean pollution, and how kids can help are included in the back matter.


Through rhyme and beautiful artwork of the sea, awareness of the problem trash has caused hits a clear note before gliding in with several solutions.

This is a book with a purpose: to raise awareness of the large trash problem currently ruining our oceans and seas. The author uses a repetitive (and very familiar) rhyming to bring the point home. It's not only easy and catchy for young listeners to join in on, but cleverly builds...much like the garbage situation. But simply showing a problem doesn't round things off. This book also ends with hope and offers solutions along the way.

The illustrations are beautiful...if not bitter-sweet, since they do clear drive the point of ocean pollution home. While the rhyme makes each moment clear, the illustrations really touch the heart. Especially the sea life is wonderfully depicted and invites for gazing, among the garbage, of course. It's a well-balanced mix, which makes sure the message hits with full strength.

Not only does do the last pages of the book show a light at the end of the tunnel and illustrate that it's not a lost situation, but there are extra pages at the end, which give more detail. Each scene (or poem line) is give more information on how it affects the environment. Then, a suggestion is offered as to how each specific problem can be helped. 

For anyone wanting to raise awareness concerning ocean pollution, this is a wonderful book to grab up and use. 

And here they are...

The Author...
Michelle Lord is the author of the Paterson Prize Honor Book A Song For Cambodia, as well as Nature Recycles and Animal School: What Class Are You? She lives with her family in New Braunsfels, Texas.

The Illustrator...
Julia Blattman works as a visual development artist for Paramount Animation, and has created art for Disney and for Dreamworks TV. Julia loves bringing stories to life with her art. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and this is her first picture book.

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