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The Dumpster Diver Hardcover – February 13, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2—This urban trash-to-treasure tale will resonate with city dwellers and send suburbanites and kids in rural areas searching for similar adventures. A boy waits at his bedroom window for his adult neighbor Steve, a.k.a. "the dumpster diver," to set things in motion. Five taps come on the boy's window and two other young residents of the building also receive the signal to report to duty. The children are "Hose Handler #1," "Hose Handler #2," and "The Fauceteer." Armies of insects are dislodged when Steve dives into the back-alley Dumpster and hauls out seemingly worthless junk, but worth is in the eyes of the beholder, and the three assistants share his reverence for discarded objects. Broken skis, blenders, and lamps can all be reincarnated, and half the fun is finding a tenant who will appreciate some newly fashioned object. Steve's enthusiasm and creativity are so infectious that neither he nor his helpers are deterred by the building grouch, who thinks that the man should get a real job. The text aptly appears on torn scraps of paper or, in the case of the final words, a Band-Aid that Steve will need, having incurred a "work related" injury and convalescing in a homemade wheelchair! With his unmatched gloves and flippers, goggles, and hooded yellow slicker, Steve is a lovable comic figure. Roberts portrays him with a playful elasticity that perfectly matches Wong's playful story.—Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Riffling through rubbish isn't an activity that most grown-ups wish to encourage. But seasoned writer Wong cleverly spins the topic for children, leaving the actual diving to a grown-up who is clearly known to everyone in the featured apartment complex: "Our neighbor Steve the Electrician dives for buried treasure right smack here in our backstreet alley." The book's African American narrator describes how Steve enlists a "Diving Team" of children to dream up wild ways to reuse his finds, such as a blender lava lamp or a zany contraption held together by "thirty-two screws and a roll of duct tape." Essential to the book's charm are Wong's dry humor (rule number one of garbage immersion: "KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT") and Roberts' screwball watercolors, which capture the whimsy of the creations, the gross-out fun (cockroaches abound), and the breathless energy of all involved. The topsy-turvy artwork keeps things light, but adults will find plenty to talk about with children, from the value of creative conservation to safe modeling of the depicted activities (which include gathering junk from apartment tenants who may or may not be strangers). This will be popular anytime, but especially around Earth Day, when it will inject new possibility into enjoyment to reduce and recycle. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 920L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763623806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763623807
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.3 x 11.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Janet S. Wong (www.janetwong.com) is an award-winning author and anthologist of more than two dozen books for young readers, teachers, and parents. One of the most distinctive things about Janet Wong's body of work is its variety. There's at least one book for anyone--and EVERYONE!

Picture Books

BUZZ
This book was an L.A. Times Best Book of the Year for children--a lively read-aloud about a toddler's busy morning routine. Kids love buzzing along every time you point to the word BUZZ!

THE DUMPSTER DIVER
This book is not just for kids--with its hipster illustrations, it's a quirky gift for anyone who is good at "creative recycling." Give it to a 5-year-old future engineer along with a box full of assorted junk or to your dad for helping you clean your garage.

APPLE PIE 4th of JULY
This book landed Janet a gig at the White House Easter Egg Roll--a "slice of community" story celebrating diversity.

HOMEGROWN HOUSE
Gorgeous illustrations by E.B. Lewis enhance this story about making a house feel like a home.


Poetry Books

TWIST: Yoga Poems
This book is for all ages, from 3-year-olds who love looking at Julie Paschkis's detailed illustrations (and can bend themselves into all of the yoga poses) to 73-year-old yoga teachers. In "Finding the Center," the author compares herself to a doughnut.

KNOCK ON WOOD: Poems about Superstitions
Teachers looking for books to use with the Common Core will enjoy discussing the Author's Notes about what the superstitions mean and comparing them with the way superstitions are presented in poems. A follow-up exercise is to have students interview family members about those same superstitions.

GOOD LUCK GOLD and A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED
Janet Wong received the Claremont Stone Center Recognition of Merit for these two classic collections about the Asian American experience.

BEHIND THE WHEEL: Poems about Driving
Forty poems for teens about driving also use driving as a metaphor for a wide variety of life issues.

THE RAINBOW HAND: Poems about Mothers and Children
Children's favorites from this book include "Smother Love" and "Crazy Mother," while new mothers appreciate poems reflecting on the motherhood experience such as "The Gift of Breathing Slow."

ONCE UPON A TIGER: New Beginnings for Endangered Animals
As with KNOCK ON WOOD, this is another title that teachers will find useful in their teaching of the Common Core. Most of these poems about endangered animals are "pourquoi tale" poems with a folkloric feel, and yet critical readers will be able to recognize embedded facts once they read the nonfiction notes.

DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE: Poems for an Election Year
These mostly-lighthearted and nonpartisan poems about various aspects of an election--from debates to the electoral college to broader issues such as liberty--will spark discussion in classrooms and at home. TheDeclarationOfInterdependenceBlog.blogspot.com.


Chapter Books

ME AND ROLLY MALOO
The pressures of standardized testing in 4th grade push Rolly Maloo to ask Jenna to cheat; but only Jenna is caught. Should she keep her secret, or tell on Rolly Maloo? This hybrid graphic novel will be useful in starting discussions about cheating (why we do it, how to say no, and how to deal with being caught in a lie). A Horace Mann Upstanders Award Honor Book (recognizing books where a character stands up for something important).

MINN AND JAKE
This "easy reader for 5th graders" focuses on the unlikely friendship between a lizard-loving girl and a tech geek. A Washington Sasquatch finalist and BCCB Blue Ribbon Award winner.

MINN AND JAKE'S ALMOST TERRIBLE SUMMER
In this sequel to the popular MINN AND JAKE, Jake visits his old home in Los Angeles and learns "you can't go back home again"--but a string of hilarious mini-disasters involving self-tanning lotion, ants, buffet meals, and Disneyland can teach you to appreciate your new friends more than ever!


Books that Teachers Like:

YOU HAVE TO WRITE
A picture book about the writing and revision process--cited on Common Core lists as useful.

BEFORE IT WRIGGLES AWAY
A "Meet the Author" book that gives insight into the writing process with a "just do it" message to put ideas down on paper "before they wriggle away."

THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY
A K-5 anthology of 218 poems by 76 poets, with curriculum connections for each poem. Edited by Janet Wong and children's literature professor Sylvia Vardell. (This is available in a Common Core version and in a Texas TEKS version.)

THE POETRY TAG TIME E-BOOK SERIES (PoetryTagTime, P*TAG, and GIFT TAG)
The three e-books in this series are also Vardell and Wong ventures; accessible poems at irresistible e-book prices; and easy to project onto a Smartboard or screen so that the whole classroom can read and discuss these poems at the same time.



About Janet Wong:

When Janet Wong is not writing, speaking at teacher conferences, or sharing writing tips with children in schools, she spends most of her time trying to grow blueberries and carnivorous plants at her home in Princeton, NJ.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Inspired by Kerry Wade, an artist who takes old skis and turns them into chairs, Janet S. Wong crafted this colorful (thanks to illustrator David Roberts) story about Steve the electrician, also known as The Dumpster Diver. Every month, Steven dons his special dumpster diving suit, dives right in to the big trash bin, and counts on three young friends to assist him: one turns on the faucet, another keeps the hose from getting tangled up, and the other aims the nozzle at all of the nasty bugs and spiders that evacuate the dumpster in the wake of Steve's invasion - and then at Steve once he emerges from the dumpster. They turn "junk" into all kinds of neat toys, gizmos, and furniture.

Lest you think otherwise, the book doesn't really encourage young children to follow in Steve's dumpster-diving footsteps. In fact, Steve ends up sustaining an injury from this little hobby of his. The real point of the story, I believe, is to pass along the idea that you can have fun by turning materials you might normally throw away or just have lying around the house somewhere into useful, fun things. In other words, one man's trash can be another man's treasure.

This is a fairly large and colorful little book that young children should really enjoy - probably little boys more than little girls. Parents would do well to talk to their children about the story, though, not only because it could lead to some fun adventures that the parents can share with the child but also because you really don't want to come home from a hard day's work to find little Johnny sitting there surrounded by a bunch of broken toys and other junk he's collected from the neighbors.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Blue River on April 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My daughter loved this book. She enjoyed how Steve turns trash into treasure. She laughed out loud at his silly creations. I like the fact that the book promotes recycling.

Her fifth birthday is coming up and I am have been asked to read her favorite book to her class at school for her birthday. I asked my daughter what her favorite book is and she picked The Dumpster Diver. Interestingly, we don't own this book, but we checked it out from the library about a year ago. She still remembers this book as her favorite!
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By Marie Roper on July 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So extremely cute! I bought this for a friend for their baby shower because we are dumpster divers. They LOVED the book. I will be purchasing the book again when the time is right.
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