Friday, April 16, 2010

Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

In 1987, Long Island sought to rid itself of almost 3,200 tons of garbage by placing it on a barge and sending it to a community willing to bury it. Here Comes the Garbage Barge! is Jonah Winter's hilarious fictionalized account of this true environmental morality play. Captain Duffy is the "crusty old sailor" who helms the tugboat (Break of Dawn) that has the unenviable task of towing the garbage.  The good captain is optimistic at first as he reaches his first port of Morehead City, North Carolina. He is unceremoniously turned back by the police. Exasperated, Captain Duffy calls his boss who says he has a connection in New Orleans and directs the tugboat southward. Not surprisingly, the Crescent City wants no part of this heap of garbage either. The hapless captain is then sent by his boss on a seemingly never ending journey where the barge is rejected several more times. Finally, the Break of Dawn is sent back to New York where a judge orders the garbage to be sent to an incinerator and the remains shipped back to Long Island.

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! is a fascinating picture book on many levels. Winter's caricatures of people in different regions are humorous and cutting. He is able to illuminate the ridiculousness of the situation and still create sympathy for the poor captain. Kids will understand the greater theme of how we need to create less garbage. This would be an excellent book to read for your Earth Day celebration.

Red Nose Studio created the 3-D sets for this book using "wire, fabric, junk, and more." Each set is an amazing piece of work. Here is a link to a video showing how this was done.

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