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The Mess That We Made

By Michelle Lord
Illustrations by Julia Blattman
Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

A Children’s Book Steeped in Traditions

A Book of Poetry for Today’s Kids and the Future of the Planet

Flashlight Press, 2020
ISBN: 9781947277144
Children/Preschool to Elementary Grades

Even children from about four to eight will be familiar with the essence of this lovely book by Michelle Lord. They will feel in their bones a rhythm they already know. They will sense and expect what is to come—perhaps because they remember it from an earlier book of nursery rhymes—as they recur with ever more expectation and power in The Mess That We Made. They will be surprised at the twists this author brings to this structure they are already conversant with. And though the theme is one they hear every day even at their tender ages, they will feel comfortable with the impression-influenced illustrations coming from the studio of Julia Blattman.

These talents—author, illustrator, and publisher—manage to put together a tough theme about the state of our planet and its oceans and a positive future. Yes, it is both a warning and empowering. Everyone knows we have some control over our own middens or—in today’s terms—our own garbage patches. But who could have guessed they would become the monsters we must fight, and we the heroes we long to become.

And who but a publisher dedicated to do right by its promise to bring an author’s work to life could combine excellent storytelling using the often-mundane tools of teacher/parent guides and endpapers and better than this. Adults will want to turn to backmatter to see what is in store before they sit down for a reading experience with their child. Or maybe not. Enjoy the story first. Then dig into the great stuff at the back of the book you thought you knew but didn’t, the stuff that will delight your teaching instincts and perhaps produce the next generation’s environmental scientist.

(Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an English and accent reduction tutor, an editor, a multi award-winning writer of fiction, and a marketer of books. Learn more about her own books and chapbooks of poetry with Amazon’s list of her published books at CarolynsAmznProfile .)

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