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The Mess That We Made: 01/11/20
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."
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!