PPBF: One Plastic Bag

Yes, I’m a huge Miranda Paul fan. I’ve read Miranda’s debut book, ONE PLASTIC BAG, many times. This year, I shared it with my kindergarten through 3rd-grade LEGO League team. The FIRST LEGO League Jr. challenge was  “Waste Wise,” and students learned about trash, reusing, and recycling. This book was a perfect fit for one of our research sessions.


AUTHOR: Miranda Paul

ILLUSTRATOR: Elizabeth Zunon

PUBLICATION INFO: Millbrook Press, 2015


SOURCE: personal copy

INTENDED AUDIENCE: grades 1 through 4

GENRE: nonfiction picture book


“Isatou walks with her chin frozen.

Fat raindrops pelt her bare arms. Her face hides in the shadow of a palm-leaf basket, and her neck stings with every step.”

From the publisher: “Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.

The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.

Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.”

THEMES/TOPICS: social activism, recycling

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: One Plastic Bag has so many hooks. First, Miranda incorporates Gambian culture and language into the text, immersing the reader into Isatou’s world. Second, the book has great read aloud-ability. Miranda uses a repeating refrain: “first one, then two, then ten,” which makes kids want to chant along. Finally, who can resist a story about one person seeing an insurmountable problem and taking a small step that leads to a giant change?


  • One Plastic Bag‘s Web site is packed with activities and information, including a PowerPoint about The Gambia and instructions for turning plastic bags into purses.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!