Ella and the Useless Day – Meg McKinlay/Karen Blair

Standard

Walker Books

August 2022

ISBN13:9781760653095

Australia RRP:$25.99

New Zealand RRP:$28.99

Imprint:Walker Books Australia

Even though many of us have been banging on about Reduce/Reuse/Recycle and being more sustainable for years, dare I say since the arrival of the dread pandemic a slower, more thoughtful approach to being waste-free has become more evident. Perhaps it was a side-effect of the having to do without many things for sustained periods or maybe because our customary lifestyles seemed so threatened, whatever the reason I feel many people have turned again to slow living, cottage lifestyle – call it what you will.

Children will happily enumerate countless ways to save the environment but it’s not always so many ways to re-purpose they can imagine. This fun book with its very practical meaning will be a super adjunct to any classroom, or home, discussions around this topic.

Ella and her Dad realise they have just too much stuff and lots of it is USELESS so together they have a big clear-out and all the jumble goes into the trailer, destined for the tip. Along the way however, friends and neighbours spot various pieces of the ‘junk’ that is just the thing they have been looking for. By the time the pair get to the tip, they have nothing USELESS left at all.

There is much to love about this book. For a start, I love that it’s Ella and her father doing the clearing out – we don’t see a mother, perhaps there isn’t one but I do like that it suggests that fathers are equally as good at organising and de-cluttering. I love the colour palette used by illustrator, Karen Blair, the soft pastels evoke a real sense of homely-ness and comfort, peace and emotional warmth. Along with that the neighbourhood houses are so cottage-y and the entire setting like a traditional village, that immediately one feels the sense of connectedness and community. Everyone in the neighbourhood puts their piece of junk to creative and imaginative use from giant decorative flowers to a terrarium, and a scarecrow to fairy garden. It’s just a lovely, feel-good way to spread the word about re-purposing, upcycling and reducing landfill.

If your school, like so many, has a program in place to encourage sustainable living this is a must-have and even without that it is definitely a valuable addition to your classroom curriculum program or home school.

Highly recommended for children from Prep upwards.

If you live in Brisbane – check out Reverse Garbage where you can not only source great materials for upcycling but book presenters for workshops. I feel sure that other localities will have similar co-ops.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s