#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes Witches and Goddesses Dryads and Priestesses

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Cleaning Up One’s Community One Crocheted Coin Purse At A Time

"One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia" by Miranda Paul and Elizabeth Zunon.

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

I have always wanted to read this title ever since Fats shared it a few years back. I know I am late to this recycling party, but as they say, better late than never.


One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay And The Recycling Women Of The Gambia

(Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Miranda Paul Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Published by Millbrook Press (2015)
ISBN: 1467716081 (ISBN13: 9781467716086)
Borrowed via Singapore’s NLB Overdrive. E-Book photos taken by me.

In this story, the recycling women of Gambia gathered together not to cast a spell, but to use their craftsmanship and resourcefulness to solve their community’s problem. In the Historical Timeline found at the end of the book, it appeared that the issue started to surface sometime in the 1970s when the mounds of garbage and plastic became pretty overwhelming around Njau in particular.

In Miranda Paul’s narration of the story, it was shared how Isatou even found the floating plastic in the beginning when she was younger, as colourful and pretty. However, the fact that it can not be one with the dirt once it is disposed became a huge problem, especially when the goats started rummaging through garbage and consuming plastic, effectively poisoning them.

It can be deduced from the narrative how the lack of awareness and education about the ill-effects of plastic is an even bigger issue in the community. Rather than despair, Isatou took it upon herself to transform garbage into something useful and beautiful – with the support, assistance, and active help of a few women who believed in her vision – even as others laughed at the absurdity of their idea.

I especially appreciated the can-do attitude of these recycling women who saw a problem and fixed it, one less plastic at a time. The Author’s Note indicating what inspired the creation of this story was also a welcome addition, providing a bit of authorial context to the narrative. Teachers would also be happy to note that there is an extensive backmatter that provides additional links and resources, as well as actual photos of Isatou Cessay and the women of Njau.


#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America (both author and illustrator are from the US)

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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