“One cold, windy morning early in spring, a bulldozer was pushing a big pile of garbage around a landfill, when it uncovered an empty plastic bag. The woman driving the bulldozer didn’t notice the bag and drove on. It was a bag for carrying groceries, just the color of the skin of a yellow onion, and it had two holes for handles. It was a perfectly good bag, but someone had thrown it away.” from Bag in the Wind
And, so begins Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s first book for children. A gust of wind lifts a billowy bag out of a landfill, and a “hero’s journey” of a sort begins as the bag responds to the eddies of neglect, re-use, and conservation. The bag in the wind becomes a character you care about, along with all the human lives it flies by — especially Margaret, a little girl who somewhere learned to “waste not and want not.”
Ted Kooser tells a memorable story of care and old-time values, and Barry Root’s warm watercolor and gouache paintings are a perfect complement.
Our Waterton Canyon Kids Nature Library is mostly full of books on the wonders of nature, but we also have many titles that harken back to the old lessons of waste not, want not. Books such as these:
Recycle! A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons, and Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow: A Compost Story by Linda Glaser, a book that tracks a cluster of kids: scraping their dinner plates into a kitchen bucket, then out to the backyard compost bin, and eventually to the rich soil that results:
a rich soil, that is described so well in Raymond Bial’s A Handful of Dirt, which, of course, makes a perfect home for An Earthworm’s Life (a really fun & vivid book by John Himmelman).
Waste Not, Want Not — and Let the Cycle be Complete!