Big brother Charlie is the epitome of patience and good humor as he deals with his little sister, Lola, in We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers. Using the characters and mixed media collage style of Lauren Child, this children's picture book provides a good introduction to recycling.
We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers: The Story
Charlie's "small and very funny" little sister Lola has accumulated lots of things, including boxes and broken toys in her room. However, when visiting friends Morton and Marv, she sees their packrat brother Marty's room. Lola never wants her room to look like Marty's, which his mother refers to as "a complete pigsty," so she decides to clean out her bedroom by throwing things out.
Charlie suggests she recycle anything she doesn't need but when he says, "recycle it," she replies, "Bicycle it?" Charlie then explains what recycling means. When her mother gives her a comic book, Look After Your Planet, Lola finds out about a contest. By collecting 100 tin cans, 100 plastic things, and 100 things made out of paper, contestants will win a tree of their own to plant. They can use the tree counter poster to keep track of what they collect to recycle.
Lola is wildly enthusiastic, to the point of unrolling a toilet paper roll to get to the cardboard roll so she can recycle it, until Charlie tells her, "The idea is to use the paper really slowly and not waste it - so we don't have to cut down lots of trees! Then you recycle the rolls."
Finally, deciding she needs more help to get everything collected by the contest deadline, Lola takes the tree counter poster to school and gets all of her classmates involved in recycling. It seems that they will fall short of having enough, when Morton brings in just enough. The class wins a tree and plants it. All's well that ends well is not quite the case when Morton's brother, the packrat Marty, finds out where Morton found the stuff he recycled!
We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers: The IllustrationsThe quirky mixed media artwork, combining photography, watercolors, and collage results in vibrant and highly entertaining illustrations. The characters, all drawn as a child might, with almost stick figures and large heads exhibit lots of emotion. One of the most effective double-page spreads shows Charlie and Lola standing in a pile of actual bags of trash that extends way above their heads. Charlie looks up at the pile with outstretched arms and warns, "if we throw everything away, then we will all be buried under a [here the words get bigger and bigger] massive, huge pile of garbage." Lola looks worried.
We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers: Added BenefitsAt the back of the book is a removable Tree Counter poster with leaves your children can cut out and attach to the tree counter every time they collect something to recycle. This is a great way of taking the book's message and applying it to daily life. Throughout the book, including the endpapers, there is information about what kids can do to protect the environment.
We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers: The Book's Creators
While I am used to writing about children’s books that have been made into movies, this book represents something different. The characters in We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers, Charlie and Lola, were created by award-winning British author and illustrator Lauren Child, who is also very well-known for her picture books and chapter books featuring the feisty Clarice Bean. Child received the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 2001 for her children's picture book I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, which features Charlie and Lola. Other books about Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child include I Am Not Sleepy and Will Not Go To Bed and I am Too Absolutely Small for School.
An animated TV series based on Charlie and Lola, with Child involved in the production, has since become very popular. The text of We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers is based on a script from the show written by Bridget Hurst and the illustrations come from the TV animation produced by Tiger Aspect Productions. However, both the story and the illustrations are very much in line with what readers have come to expect from a Lauren Child book about Charlie and Lola.