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Microplastics and Me Hardcover – February 1, 2020

4.9 out of 5 stars 12 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Microplastics and Me may sound like nonfiction (indeed, it embraces many nonfiction elements, educating readers about microplastics and conservation), but it reads with the lively inspection of fiction and will reach grades 3-6 with its story of middle grader/author Anna Du's discovery of how she translated her environmental concerns into award-winning solutions. 
More than just another educational survey of conservation issues, this proactive, 'can do' model for conservation activism is essential reading for elementary to middle grade learners also concerned about environmental degradation. 
The first thing to note about Microplastics and Me is that it's narrated in the first person by the young author and includes a wealth of colorful photographs capturing not just issues, but her love of collecting sea glass on the beach in the lovely environment of the New England shoreline. 
These personal touches reflecting her fascination with the seaside's beauty adds a personal touch to the adventure, where a factual nonfiction account alone couldn't have translated this science personal connections with nature: "Every week, I came here to pick up sea glass and relax for a few hours. The sea gulls squawked, the waves lapped slowly on the sand, and the warm sea breeze drifted around. I loved how doing absolutely nothing allowed my thoughts to drift and calmed me down as I slowly dried off." 
By documenting the process of how she becomes personally involved in and committed to conservation and plastics recycling, Anna Du creates a winning, involving discussion that kids will readily understand because every conservation consideration is backed by personal experience and thoughts: "Walking briskly along the shore with Andy at my side, I picked up piece after piece of what looked like sea glass but was actually plastic. Even back at my pile of sea glass, I realized that some of the materials that I'd thought were sea glass... suddenly didn't look a lot like sea glass. Instead, they looked like even more pieces of plastic. I remembered a video on plastics that my school had shown us weeks before. The video displayed the life cycle of a piece of plastic--from its start in a factory to its end, either in a garbage can or in the ocean. We learned that the amount of plastics that have accumulated in the ocean is so great that there is a floating plastic island called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is larger than Texas. When I watched the school video about this problem, it had seemed so distant. After all, the Pacific Ocean was thousands of miles away. But now, all of a sudden, I could truly see how plastic waste affected me personally."
It's the reinforcement of both this connection and Du's personal commitment to not just observing and learning, but problem-solving, that makes Microplastics and Me so extraordinary. The large-size, compelling color photos enhance a story that more than captures attention, injecting a wave of hope and activist opportunities into a subject that is typically approached via factual review, imparting a broad sense of hopelessness.
Microplastics and Me is a highly recommended, unique standout in the world of children's conservation writing. Its young author's enthusiasm, research, and concrete science fair tips are extraordinarily helpful and hopeful for fellow would-be young conservationists. 
-- Midwest Book Review 

From the Author

Author Q+A With Anna Du
 
 
How did you come up with this idea?
  • This idea came to me a couple years ago. This was when all the news articles about plastics were just coming out -- including the famous National Geographic article. However, I didn't just read up about it. I also witnessed it first hand. I live in Boston, and I'm surrounded by beaches, which I visit constantly during the summer. I've seen these plastics float up. The worst part was the realization that these plastics don't just come from factories nearby -- they could've been from all around the world. Within a few months, something on the opposite side of the world could end up a few miles from my house. 
 
Why did you write a book?
  • I've written a book to reach out about this problem to more people. My hope is to make this book available as a resource to more people in communities that might not be aware of the severity of this problem, and inspire them to think about how they can work on their own projects to help alleviate this problem, or even work on any problem in the world they want to solve on their own. 
 
Can you tell us something interesting about yourdog?
  • When we were first getting him, we had to think about many names for him -- but in the end, we decided upon Andy. Not only was this a simple, but cute name, there was also another meaning behind it. My name, in Chinese, is 'an an', and little brother is 'di'. When you put it together phonetically, 'an di', or Andy, means Anna's little brother. 
 
What makes it unique?
  • Rather than passively search for the plastics on the surface of the ocean, I'm actively searching for microplastics on the ocean floor. Currently, there already are many different organizations working on the cleanup on the 'plastic islands'. However, they are focused on the larger pieces of plastics on the surface of the ocean -- microplastics on the ocean floor haven't really been touched yet. To clean up microplastics in the most efficient way possible, I'm planning on first identifying the patterns of aggregation so we can target the known areas, rather than blindly search the ocean. 
 
How do you feel about books?
  • I've always loved reading. In the past, people have commented on how hard it is to catch me without a book in my hands. I would read all the time, and I still do! Whenever I have a moment of free time, I'm reading, whether it's on the bus, right before I go to sleep, and even in the few minutes between classes. 
 
Microplastics are very small, and are dispersedacross the entire ocean. Why are they such a big problem?
  • The fact that microplastics have dispersed across the entire ocean is precisely why they are more dangerous than other types of pollution. Animals could accidentally consume microplastic, and through bioaccumulation and biomagnification, the number of microplastics, and therefore toxins, within each animal will increase drastically. As microplastics break down, their surface area also increases, allowing them to bind with potentially toxic substances. 
 
What effect will any of this have on ourplanet?  Won't global climate change be worse for the planet and moredangerous on a faster time scale?
  • All of the issues that are facing our world are related to each other one way or another. Climate change has already been a huge problem, whether it's about land or marine life. It had been reducing food sources for animals, meaning that the bottom of the food chain will increase. This leads to events such as microalgal bloom happening. As these algae spread farther, they bind with microplastics, causing them to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Marine animals who rely on marine 'snow' will be hit with these hybrids of plastics and organic debris. These microplastic/algae hybrid spread across the entire food chain, potentially wiping out entire species at a time. This could cause ocean acidification, dead zones, and oxygen depletion zones. All of these, in addition to plastics and polymer chemistry, can have serious consequences on the environment.
 
Do you love coding and engineering as much asyou love your dog?
  • My dog is one of my best friends, and I hope he's going to stay my best friend for a long time, but lately, I've realized my one true love, is science and engineering. I hope with all my heart, that will be with me forever. I hope that it's not just something that will make me interested, and benefit me through my career, but also I hope that through this, I can help lots and lots of people and animals, and plants.  
 
What does your family feel about your path inlife? 
 
  • My parents have always tried to foster a love for engineering within me -- and it worked. Ever since I was young, I've always been interested in how things work, and they've always provided me the opportunity to do it. Even when my project was barely just an idea, they still encouraged me to keep on going. Their encouragement proved to be invaluable as I encountered more and more obstacles. 
 
How do your friends and teachers feel about allyour recent success in the science fairs?
  • The first time I got into a national competition, everyone was jumping up and down with excitement. None of us had ever done anything to warrant national attention -- none of us even knew anybody who was on TV! To all of us, this was only something that happened to people in books, or in movies. They all felt like they were sharing the success, experiencing the whole process with me. By now, anytime something big happens to me, the first people I tell, are my friends and my teachers. 
 
What's your goal, moving forward with yourproject?  And, what's your long term goal for your own life and for ourplanet?
 
  • I plan to clean up the world's oceans. In the past year, I've been able to equip my ROV with AI, to enhance the accuracy and efficiency. My next step is to use data from environmental factors to create a spatial map of where the microplastics are located. I'm doing this project, to get a sense of how I could start to try to do something like that. This is a big task, which will take a long time, and a lot of cooperation from many people, but I hope that I've started something that has been able to inspire a lot of people, and even if this project doesn't go very far, I hope that this project is able to help people come together to solve this massive problem facing the world.
 

Product details

  • Grade level : 3 - 6
  • Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
  • Hardcover : 136 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1943431507
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1943431502
  • Dimensions : 7.75 x 0.6 x 10.5 inches
  • Reading level : 9 - 12 years
  • Publisher : Tumblehome, Inc.; None edition (February 1, 2020)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.9 out of 5 stars 12 ratings

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