Book Review : “The Mess That We Made” | By Sandy Ferguson Fuller

Last Updated: November 12, 2020By


“‘Seas’ the day — do your part to protect our oceans!”

The above dedication from author Michelle Lord introduces her new children’s picture book, The Mess That We Made. With stunning full-color digital illustrations by Julia Blattman, it’s an effective, educational and engaging call to action for all ages.

Anyone who hasn’t heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or ghost nets or microplastics should seek out this simple and informative book. It’s perfect for adults and kids to share as a read-aloud with its rhythmic, repetitive storyline. The final three pages detail easy, urgent efforts that everyone can adopt to make a difference and reduce ocean pollution.

Most of our Rocky Mountain audience does not live near an ocean, but many visit and all agree that oceans are a crucial link to sustainable life on Earth. We must save our seas. The Mess That We Made offers a wonderful start. Environmental awareness and prudent lifestyle habits must begin early if today’s kids and future generations are to reverse trends and save our planet. Adults must guide that effort by example and initiative.

Did you know (I didn’t!) that five natural systems of circular ocean currents/gyres pull in and trap trash, forming the huge, expanding ocean garbage patches located in the North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and Indian Oceans? These are pictured on the back endpapers of the book. Most of the trash is sinking into the permanent seabed.

Did you know (I didn’t!) that fishing nets make up more than half of the large plastic objects in the Great Garbage Patch of the North Pacific? These ghost nets continue to endanger all sea life, including coral.

We’ve heard about PLASTIC … the current popular mantra is “Get Rid of Plastic!” It doesn’t biodegrade, it resembles an edible jellyfish to a sea turtle or bird, and six-pack rings equate to a hanging noose for many sea creatures.

But did you know (I didn’t!) that the oldest piece of plastic found in the Great Garbage Patch in a 2015 study dated back to 1977, and it’s still floating around after 40 years?! We’ve heard that irresponsible actions or lazy attitudes may circle back to harm us. Classic cause and effect.

But did you know (I didn’t!) that the microplastics blown or swept into oceans from our landfills get consumed by fish, the chemicals move up the food chain and, ultimately, end up on our seafood platter and make us sick?

I learned all of these fascinating and disturbing facts in this picture book. Look at the mess that we made — and that we are still making!

But we can seize the day! Take action. Share the important facts and ideas in this book with kids and adults. Reduce. Reuse. Repurpose. Recycle.

Hopefully, soon we’ll be able to say, “Look at our mess that has gone away.”

Illustrations by Julia Blattman.

Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2020 issue. 


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