Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

Miranda Paul
Illustrator:  Elizabeth Zunon 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Millbrook Press, 2015   ISBN: 978-1467716086

One day Isatou is walking back to her village with a basket full of fruit on her head when it starts to rain. The basket tips, falls to the ground, and breaks, and the fruit rolls all over the ground. Isatou feels very frustrated until something blows by, a “silk something” which turns out to be a plastic back. Isatou puts her fruit in the bag and walks home.

Soon many of the villagers are using plastic bags to carry things around. The bags seems to be a wonderful thing, until broken and discarded bags start to collect on the sides of the road. Isatou begins to think that perhaps plastic bags are not as wonderful as she thought they were.

Then one day Isatou finds out that several of the goats in her village have eaten the discarded plastic bags and they have died. She sees that the plastic has gathered in unsightly, stinking piles by the side of the road. Water collects around them, attracting malaria carrying mosquitoes. Some people have tried to burn the plastic to get rid of the trash, but this just creates a foul smelling smoke.

Isatou starts to gather the bags. She and her friends wash the bags, but they are not sure what they should do with them next. How can they make use of the plastic?

In this wonderful picture book the author tells the true story of a young woman and her friends who find a creative and clever way to get rid of the plastic bags that are causing environmental problems in their home in the Gambia. The women never imagine that their simple idea will bring about real change in their community, a change that will earn them, and their project, international support and recognition.