Review of Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species

Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species
by Ana Pêgo and Isabel Minhós Martins; illus. by Bernardo P. Carvalho; trans. from Portuguese by Jane Springer
Intermediate, Middle School    Greystone Kids    176 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-77164-643-7    $19.95
e-book ed.  978-1-77164-644-4    $9.99

Pêgo, a marine biologist, warns of the impact of “invasive” plastics on the ocean environment. The toys, fishing lines, and medical equipment that wash up on the beaches she frequents are the tip of the iceberg, representing just a small fraction of the volumes of plastics in the oceans and the serious harm they do to plant and animal life. The narrative, filled with lists, timelines, and asides, ambles across scientific, environmental, and personal topics, from brief explanations of concepts such as tides and the chemistry of plastic production to musings on human connections with the sea. Although each topic is discussed only briefly, the concepts accumulate as readers work through the book, presenting a solid introduction to the science and a clear call to action. Crayon illustrations of coasts and seas evoke the movements of the ocean, and photos of some of the oddities found on the beach are both fun to try to identify and disturbing when revealed, showing the amazing scope of plastic waste generated by human activities. Wonderfully direct sections transform the overused “reduce-reuse-recycle” mantra into a more effective seven-step action plan, inviting readers to call out those “pretending the problem doesn’t exist” and to contribute to long-lasting solutions. Back matter includes websites, sources, “Do You Want to Know More About Plastic,” “What We Can Do,” author bios, and information about the nonprofit David Suzuki Institute.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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