What A Waste – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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Another review in my focus on plastic pollution this month. This one targets older kids than last Fridays, and is broader than just plastic pollution, but a real winner.

Title: What a Waste, trash, recycling and protecting our planet

Author: Jess French

 Publisher: Doreen Kindersley, 2019

64 pages

Ages: 6-11

Genre: nonfiction

Themes: plastic scrap, environment, conservation, waste management, refuse, recycling, community, plastics, single-use plastics, sustainability, pollution, waste, getting involved, solutions, our planet, deforestation, alternatives


As a child, one of my favorite things to d was to search the beach for washed-up treasure. I lived by the coast and spent hours looking through the sand for sea creatures and fossils. I found all sorts of amazing things but, unfortunately, I also found lots of trash. From balloons to toilet seats, I was often more likely to find a piece of plastic than a shell. Today, as a vet, I see first-hand the terrible effects that our garbage has on wildlife and pets.


Everything you need to know about what we’re doing to our environment, good and bad, from pollution and litter to renewable energy and plastic recycling.

This environmental book will teach young ecologists about how our actions affect planet Earth. Discover shocking facts about the waste we produce and where it goes. Did you know that every single plastic toothbrush ever made still exists? Or that there’s a floating mass of garbage twice the size of Texas drifting around the Pacific Ocean?

It’s not all bad news though. As well as explaining where we’re going wrong, What a Waste shows what we’re doing right! Discover plans already in motion to save our seas, how countries are implementing schemes that are having a positive impact, and how your waste can be turned into something useful. Every small change helps our planet!

Why I like this book:

Vet and author Jess French introduces this jam-packed and thought-provoking book with, ‘humans are now producing more waste than ever before and our planet is suffering’ and presents a challenge ‘the power to make a positive change is in our hands.’

Presented with current facts, figures, graphic representations, photographs, dialogue boxes in the vibrant DK style, many environmental issues are explored. Did you know ‘92% of the world’s people are breathing polluted air?’ And of particular interest to me this month, she shares about ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ in the north Pacific Ocean, which contains plastic rubbish that weighs as much as 500 jumbo jets. Simple but effective solutions are shown as well to reduce plastic in the ocean, take three for the sea by removing rubbish on beach visits, organise your own clean-ups and join in International Coastal Clean-up Day.

Each double paged spread introduces a new topic, and the range is terrific. It covers areas like, electronic waste, single-use plastic, poop, air pollution, landfill… Each topic is defined and solutions are offered, ways in which children, students, families and communities can assist in recycling, reducing waste and protecting our environment. E-waste, food waste, water waste and industrial waste are key areas of concern. Bold statements and facts presented as percentages – 79% of plastic is buried in landfill or dumped on land or at sea!

‘What a waste’ is another visually outstanding DK nonfiction book which presents current environmental concerns and shows how people are developing solutions, which we can all be involved in. The breadth French covers is impressive, even pointing out details like because of gender bias we may trash a pink t-shirt instead of handing it down to a little brother. Food for thought. Bravo DK for a timely, thorough and beautifully presented book giving us facts and hope.


This book could be used for weeks of study on environment/trash. Schools should definitely add it to their Earth Day Collections.

The book contains organizations and charities which are active in conservation etc There’s a two-page glossary, a comprehensive index and tons of references.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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10 Responses to What A Waste – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Andrea Mack says:

    Sounds like it has a lot of good information!

  2. Patricia Nozell says:

    A wonderful choice for plastic-free month!

  3. There’s always room in the market for more great books that encourage kids to recycle, reuse, repurpose, and help our planet. I’ve added this book to my list.

  4. I am enjoying your focus on a plastic-free month. Both kids and adults should read this book together. You’ve chosen some really excellent books to share with kids of all ages. And I love your commitment to reducing the plastic in your life. Second Story Press also has a series under their “Kid’s Power Book” series. You may find some books on the topic there too. Great series.

  5. I love that you’re promoting conservation and environmental awareness!

  6. What an important book, not just in showing what we have/are doing wrong, but in highlighting how we are working to correct it. Just the sort of inspirational book that we need to get kids thinking about ways to help in their own lives and maybe create the next great solution. Great review, Joanna.

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