In their second STEAM-powered exploration (Full STEAM Ahead!, 2014), mouse twins Sydney and Simon investigate the problem of garbage.
Sydney’s foray into trash tracking starts with a field trip to the aquarium, where a green sea turtle is recuperating after eating plastic. It doesn’t take much of a leap for Sydney to make a connection: “The more trash we make, the more there’s a chance that some of that trash could end up in the ocean.” The two keep a tally of their family’s trash for a week, and the results are eye-opening. Their school is an even larger garbage generator. Ms. Fractalini helps the twins use science, technology, engineering, arts, and math to come up with a way to raise awareness and encourage the community to participate in a solution. A sculpture of Greenie the turtle made out of trash and a song about going green are the start of a communitywide movement to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Along the way, readers will learn lots about decomposition, how quickly garbage adds up, and ways to reduce trash. Ink-and-watercolor-wash illustrations help break up the text and put pictures in readers’ heads that will stick with them, making them likely to want to get on the green bandwagon.
Though STEAM is not emphasized as much as it was in the first book, that’s not a bad thing, as it helps readers to focus on Sydney and Simon’s problem-solving, which they are likely to see as quite doable in their own communities.
Sydney meets Greenie the sea turtle during a field trip to the aquarium. Greenie has been harmed by plastic waste that has made its way into the ocean. Sydney returns home and begins to track her family’s trash production. From there, she finds out, with the help of custodian Mr. Clutterbuck, that her school produces an enormous amount of waste. Her campaign inspires an original song as well as a series of major changes in waste management and recycling at the school. In the end, Greenie is ready to be returned to the ocean and Sydney and Simon pledge to help everyone “Go Green!” The highly approachable text is beautifully complemented by Reynolds’s artwork. VERDICT A well-constructed introduction to the dangers facing the environment from human carelessness.
–School Library Journal