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Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann
Bob the Artist by Marion Deuchars
The Big Shrink by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins
Black Hammer, Volume 4: Age of Doom Part Two by Jeff Lemire
Bound for Murder by Victoria Gilbert
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The Bride Was a Boy by Chii
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
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It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan and Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison
Magnificent Birds by Narisa Togo
The Mess That We Made by Michelle Lord and Julie Blattman
Out of Circulation by Miranda James
The Pretenders by Rebecca Hanover Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis
Sabrina the Teenage Witch by Kelly Thompson and Veronica Fish
The Space Between by Dete Meserve
Swing it, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
There's a Murder Afoot by Vicki Delany
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
The Troubleshooter's Guide to Do-It-Yourself Genealogy by W. Daniel Quillen
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas and Erin E. Stead
The Winterhouse Mysteries by Ben Guterson and Chloe Bristol
Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda
World's Worst Parrot by Alice Kuipers

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December 2019 sources
December 2019 summary
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (January 06)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (January 13)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (January 20)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (January 27)

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The Mess That We Made: 01/11/20

The Mess That We Made

The Mess That We Made by Michelle Lord and Julie Blattman is about plastic trash polluting the world's oceans. It is a "House that Jack Built" type progressive narrative. I'm normally not a fan of this type of storytelling but it works here.

There are two halves to this book. The first half establishes just how bad things have gotten. It begins with four children in a boat floating over a body of water littered with plastics and the caption: "This is the mess that we made." It ends where it began, though this time with a whale swimming through that mess and the repeated line: "Look at the mess that we made."

illustration from The Mess We Made showing children in a rowboat over floating trash

illustration from The Mess We Made showing a whale swimming below trash and wrapped in a net

The book could have ended there with the whale and her calf swimming through garbage with the tiny boat of children on the surface. It would have been a dark and biting critique of the current state of our oceans.

But there is the second half, one that revisits the text with calls to action. "[W]e are the ones that save the day." Here the beach is shown with people participating in a beach clean-up day. After outlining all the ways we can fix things, it shows the same whale and calf in pristine waters, teaming with fish and the text: "that swim in the ocean that WE save!"

Throughout the book, the illustrations by Julia Blattman are what drive the narrative. Blattman is a visual development artist at Paramount. Her two page spreads show a cinematic eye. These pages could be stills from an animated film or storyboards for a live action films. The Mess That We Made is her first illustrated book. I hope it's the first of many!

Five stars

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