Monday, January 25, 2021

Review: The Last Straw by Zoe Matthiessen

Happy Monday, and to start off the week, we'll be hitting 

by Zoe Matthiessen
North Atlantic Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Sippy, a plastic straw who was used once and discarded, is concerned by his own existence when he realizes he can't be recycled. As he flies, floats, and flutters around the planet, he meets animals who are struggling with the plastic problem. He chats with a raccoon with a six-pack ring around his neck, a cardinal whose nest is made entirely of junk, turtles who confuse grocery bags with food, a hermit crab forced to live in a plastic cap, and a startled duck who runs around with a chip bag on her head. Finally, Sippy is swallowed by a hungry whale--who is dining on ocean trash! Just when all hope seems lost, he skyrockets to freedom and provides the reader with alternatives to single-use plastics. This colorful adventure raises awareness of the impact of plastics upon nature, and teaches children how they can avoid contributing to the problem.


                                                          * environmental theme
                                                                 * cute characters
                                                                 * amazing illustrations


With vibrant and lively illustrations, a plastic straw discovers the horrid side of pollution during his long travels.

A straw, who was used once, finds himself in the beak of a bird and deposited in a nest made of various pieces of plastic. Before he can be worked, in to the weave, he's blown away. His journey continues through trees, across land and into the ocean. Each time he meets animals and creatures, and witnesses how plastic trash has taken over their habitats and ruined their lives.

This is a great book to introduce young listeners to the problems surrounding plastic garbage and the environment, and it's perfect for any group wanting to discuss or learn about this theme. The vocabulary is simple enough even for younger listeners. The entire thing is written in rhyme and does make for a nice read aloud.

The story starts a bit sudden as the straw finds itself in the beak of a bird. I, personally, would have enjoyed starting a tad bit earlier...with the single use of the straw and then getting tossed along the wayside as it does take a second to figure out what's going on and settle in to the situation, but it does start the book head-first into the theme. The tale rolls out smoothly, with each turn of the page bringing a new character for young listeners to meet. The animals are sweet and kind, despite each one being stuck in an unpleasant predicament thanks to garbage. Kids will enjoy meeting each animal and sympathize at the same time. So, it's a nice balance.

The illustrations are bright, chucked full of details, and make each circumstance very clear. These offer something new to discover with every view, which will keep young listeners coming back to search for things they didn't see before. There's a gentle energy to each scene to keep a little bit of joy even when the situations are anything but happy. On the reality end, these images definitely pile the garbage to the extreme. I did find this a bit over-exaggerated since it hit on every single page with no time for pause...almost too much so. It does hit the message home, though. The ending suggestions are ones kids can follow and do open up to discussions. And that, I assume, is what this book is about.  So, it does its job very well and in an entertaining way.

You can learn more about Zoe Matthiessen at her website:

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