Scrap Metal Swan: A River Clean-Up Story

May 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781646864980.
PreS-K–Told in verse, the story begins with ordinary people gathering to collect the waste harming a river, sending it away on a barge or trucks. But a gray-haired, brown-skinned woman known as the Artist and her young female helper set aside certain pieces to sculpt a statue for all people to enjoy—and to inspire other artists to create their own work from recycled objects. Each spread has between four and eight short lines pleasant for reading aloud, with words such as “debris” that an adult might need to explain. Kids will also appreciate the fun onomatopoeia used in describing various actions. The illustrator deploys magazines and encyclopedias in beautiful collages that fill every space, creating interesting pages to pore over. However, close inspection might confuse some readers. For example, when the Artist begins creating, some items listed in the text (i.e., fan and hammer) are missing in the illustration. Children might also have questions beyond the spare descriptions, such as where the trash goes. Several pages of back matter discuss how rivers get polluted and how people can help; the inspiration for the story; different types of artists and the materials they use; and craft ideas using recycled materials.
VERDICT With guidance from more advanced readers, this is a friendly environmental lesson about an artist making beauty from trash.

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