Book Review: Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, Annie Crawley

Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, with photography by Annie Crawley, is a children's non fiction book about a scientific expedition known as SEAPLEX. A team of scientists set out to study a massive accumulation of plastic in the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They have a lot of questions about the plastic. How does it affect ocean life? Is it dangerous? And exactly how much is out there? The team of researchers use the scientific method to conduct their investigation and their adventures introduce readers to the basics of ocean science and the hazards of plastics.

Plastic, Ahoy! is a narrative nonfiction book for children, that adults and teens can certainly get a lot out of reading as well. The book details the lives and discoveries of researchers for nearly three weeks at sea. They gathered bits of plastic and ocean organisms and studied the samples, which helped them learn more about the effects of plastic in the ocean and sometimes raised even more troubling questions. Readers follow along on the expedition to find out how scientists studied the Garbage Patch, and what discoveries they made. The photography brings the reader into the adventure and makes them see that everything on the pages is real, not just a story to caution them about recycling and litter.

Plastic, Ahoy! does not avoid using some complex language and ideas, but does includes a glossary, bibliography, and suggestions for further reading. It would be appropriate for older elementary school readers and older, including adults. I liked that there was no talking down to the intended audience, instead offering to increase their knowledge base and understanding.  I believe that the book would be a good classroom or homeschooling tool for fostering discussions about the ocean, Earth Day, recycling, ecosystems, and many more science topics.

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