Team Trash: A Time Traveler’s Guide to Sustainability

Holiday House. (Books for a Better Earth). Aug. 2023. 80p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780823452279; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9780823454914.
Gr 3-6–Charlie is dismayed to be partnered with Oliver for their Sustainability Science Fair. Their teacher insists it must be a team effort, but all Oliver wants to do is doodle. When they meet to work on their project, a classmate’s robot transports them back in time to Pompeii in 72 CE, where—thanks to bracelets with translation software—they learn how trash was recycled into building materials for walls. Once they’ve collected data, TimeBot whisks them to a new destination; on each stop, Charlie takes notes and Oliver sketches, collaborating to create a notebook eventually titled “Pigs, Plastic, and Politics.” From Japan in the Edo period to colonial Pennsylvania to England during the Industrial Revolution through more recent events in the U.S. and Italy, the kids learn about the benefits and flaws of various recycling systems and what they can do to help the problem of plastic pollution. Charlie briefly falls into anger and despair, but Oliver helps her through it. No one bats an eye at the kids appearing out of nowhere. Readers will likely encounter new vocabulary, which is explained in text. The layout is easy to follow, with four or five panels on most pages and the occasional notebook page. Charlie has brown skin and dark brown hair in puffs, and Oliver has pale skin and dark hair and eyes.
VERDICT This guide presents the scale of the problem of plastic trash as well as the solutions everyone—even kids—can work toward. Its appealing format, relatable characters, fun premise, and informative content make it an excellent choice for all collections.

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