Home > Mock Caldecott 2011 > Here Comes the Garbage Barge – written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Red Nose Studio

Here Comes the Garbage Barge – written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Red Nose Studio

Publication Date: Feb 9, 2010
Reviewed For: K – Grade 2

Journal Review / Summary
A fictionalized account of real events that occurred in 1987, this story will convince young readers to take their recycling efforts more seriously. When Islip, NY, has nowhere to put 3168 tons of garbage, the town officials decide that shipping them south is the right thing to do, so a tugboat towing a garbage-laden barge takes it to North Carolina. But North Carolina won’t allow the vessel to dock. It goes on to New Orleans, but again is denied harbor rights. Then it is on to Mexico, Belize, Texas, Florida, and back to New York. The garbage is ripening all along the way. Now even Islip refuses to take it back. Finally a judge orders Brooklyn to take it and incinerate it, 162 days after the barge started its journey. Islip is ordered to take the remains to their landfill. The illustrations are photographs of objects made from garbage. The people, full of personality and expression, were made from polymer clay, and wire, wood scraps, and leftover materials of all kinds were used for the tugboat and barge. The inside of the paper jacket explains how the art was done. This title should be a part of every elementary school ecology unit. – SLJ

Illustration Medium:
The illustrations are hand-built three-dimensional sets shot with a Canon digital SLR camera grafted onto the back of a Horseman 4×5 camera.  The line art was drawn with Hunt 108 pen nibs and Higgins waterproof black ink on paper.

Information on Red Nose Studio:
Chris Sickels, the creative force behind award-winning Red Nose Studio, creates an eccentric world we’d all like to visit. Endearing characters and intricate sets draw you inwith wit, intelligence and charm. His 3-D illustrations are built from a variety of materials. Sets and puppets are a combination of wire, fabric, cardboard, wood, miniatures, found objects and anything within arms reach. Any object is fair game, for one illustration he constructed an old-fashioned canister vacuum cleaner from a jumble of materials including a garlic press, a tire gauge and the cord from an old electric skillet.  These found objects can often be the deciding factor in the size of the puppets for an illustration. Generally the puppets are 6 to 8 inches tall but the objects used can dictate puppets of another size making scale a pivotal component of the work. “The objects take the pieces in different directions,” Chris says. “It’s not always in your complete control. So you have to work with the objects instead of trying to bend the objects to fit your idea.” In some cases the environment or the puppets themselves are more important than the objects used. “If it’s more about the puppet itself, then usually the head will kind of start it, because that head is the emotion. In a lot of my pieces, the characteristics in the face are the soul of it. So the face is usually one of the first things to get done.” he explains.  Chris describes his magical work, saying “The sculptures sometimes look pretty crude, or the stitching is really rough, or the buildings are painted really sloppily. They’re not poetic, there’s no rhythm to them, there’s no math to them like a good poem. But that’s how my work is. My work isn’t really graceful. It’s usually pretty awkward – like if the puppet moved, he’d fall off or he’d trip or he’d run into a wall. It’s a bit of beauty and a bit of awkwardness. And I think that’s kind of how I am.”  – http://www.magnetreps.com/bio/artist/3/

Execution in the artistic technique employed:
Well, the photographs certainly are well-done.  I particularly like the water.  This book would be even better if the people were not so creepy.  However, it is very well done and obvious that the Red Nose Studio is a group of well talented artists.

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
I am not a fan of this illustration style at all.  However, the clay does help to illustrate the droopiness of Cap’m as he grows more frustrated hauling the garbage all over the Atlantic, and of course the disgusting, melting garbage.

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
Cap’m gets saggier and more frustrated the further he has to haul the garbage (and the stinkier it gets!) The garbage melts, slumps down, and is visibly stinkier on each page.  The end is a little abrupt, and the incineration of the garbage is pretty anticlimactic.  However, Cap’m Duffy steaming off into the sunset toward New Orleans is a nice ending.

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
Did the back flap really have to have a sign that said MORAL: DON’T MAKE SO MUCH GARBAGE?   I don’t think kids are dense enough to not get the message of this book.

Delineation of characters through illustration:
Each character is incredibly detailed. The facial expressions, dress, and props of each character combined with the setting they are played on really show off the state (or country) that the Garbage Barge is visiting. (Of course, every character has a red nose.)

Delineation of setting through illustration:
The settings are merely a backdrop to the characters and the garbage barge, but each is unique nonetheless.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
Incredibly well done, in part because of the medium used.

Delineation of information through illustration:
See characters.

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
When I picked up this book, I really did not expect to enjoy it – and I didn’t, really, the first time through.  The people were creepy, and I’m just not a fan of this type of illustration.  But when I read the book again, and thought about it a little more, I think this is a wonderful Caldecott contender for 2011, and I look forward to discussing it.

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Categories: Mock Caldecott 2011
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