Publishers Weekly Review
Stowed, towed, shunned, shunted, guarded, studied, and eventually incinerated: McCarthy (The Wildest Race Ever) looks at what happened to an unwanted barge carrying more than 3,000 tons of New York trash in 1987 in this thoroughly researched picture book account. Her signature big-eyed cartoons and straightforward narrative style recount how the trash was loaded on a barge with a plan to let it decompose elsewhere to produce methane for energy production. All goes awry when no port will allow it to dock. Talking-head vignettes of politicians, newscasters, and the barge's tugboat captain (flies encircling his head) comment via speech bubbles. "Wherever this stuff goes, it's going to be somebody else's problem," says a Louisiana mayor. The discussion of America's "problem with stuff," as referenced in the subtitle, is relegated to the extensive backmatter, which includes details about the barge, the sensation it became, and the aftermath of the events described in the book, as well as information about America's history with refuse and recycling. An entertaining true tale of a smelly saga in U.S. history. Ages 4-8. Agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 3-5-The year was 1987 and a ship full of trash was about to become famous. This is the engaging, humorous, and entirely true story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and its world-traveling adventure. When he discovered a New York landfill was almost full, Lowell Harrelson had a revolutionary idea. The owner of a waste management company wanted to take the trash to an alternate location and test a process that could create electricity from garbage. However, word leaked that an entire barge of trash was setting sail for parts unknown and suddenly no one would let him bring the trash ashore. A five month-long saga ensued, taking the debris all the way to Central America and back in search of a final resting place. The narrative is immensely readable and is graced with comical illustrations that feature period correct facial hair and clothing styles. Readers will gain perspective from several points of view, including government officials, news anchors, and even the captain of the tugboat in this excellently sourced and presented tale. An exceptional addition to environment or Earth Day collections, this will have appeal as both an independent read and a mentor text for whole class studies. The supplementary material includes photos from the actual barge, facts about the barge, recycling, garbage, and ocean garbage, as well as ideas for reusing trash. VERDICT A fresh take on a story of old garbage guaranteed to spark conversations and a desire for actions among students. Highly recommended.-Emily Beasley, Omaha Public Schools © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
McCarthy (Earmuffs for Everyone!, 2015; The Wildest Race Ever, 2016) has spent her career detailing off-the-radar topics that seem trivial, until you realize they're not. Here she introduces Lowell Harrelson, who wanted to experiment with decomposing garbage to create methane gas that could then be converted into electricity. Alas, in 1987, he was a man ahead of his time. He succeeded in purchasing 3,186 tons of garbage (from a New York landfill) and in hiring a barge and a tugboat (the Break of Dawn), but in the end, no one would allow him to unload. The story contains elements of adventure (the barge spends five months cruising the Atlantic), absurdity (a business owner in the Bahamas wants to build a resort atop the trash), and regret (a Greenpeace banner reads Next Time . . . Try Recycling). McCarthy's cartoon-style acrylic illustrations convey myriad details, particularly concerning the people and equipment involved. Appended with additional details about the tugboat, garbage, and recycling, this will be welcomed by browsers studying waste management.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2018 Booklist