Here Comes the Garbage Barge!


Written By: Jonah Winter

Illustrated By: Red Nose Studio


Before Reading

Explore Illustrations and Text: Let your child explore the cover and illustrations throughout the story and ask questions like these to get him/her thinking about the subject matter and making predictions about the story:

What do you think will happen in this story?

What do you think the Garbage Barge is?

{Flip to an illustration} What do you think is happening in this picture?

When we throw things in the garbage and the garbage collector picks them up, do you know where it all goes?

Historical Fiction:

Inform your child that this is a fictionalized account of real events that happened in 1987 when the city of Islip, NY couldn’t find anywhere to put their 3,168 tons of garbage. These events highlighted the need for a more sustainable means of dealing with waste, bringing about the wide enforcement of recycling. For more information, read the Author’s Note in the beginning of the book to learn about the real events of the Garbage Barge.  


As You Read

Help your child visualize how far Cap’m Duffy and the Break of Dawn traveled by using a map during your storytime. Find New York on the map and when Cap’m Duffy sets out on his journey, point out each place that he stops. Also, the characters in this story have very expressive and exaggerated faces, so try to incorporate this by making exaggerated facial expressions and voices as well. Being animated and enthusiastic is a great way to keep your child entertained and engaged as you read.

Making Connections:

Cap’m Duffy had a real problem when none of the cities he stopped at wanted to take the garbage, forcing him to travel with the stinky trash for 162 days. In the end, Islip was ordered by a judge to take back what was left of the garbage. Ask about comparable experiences that your child has had by asking, “Can you think of a time when you made a really big mess? Whose job was it to clean it up? Why? Why do you think that the judge said that the rest of the garbage had to go back to Islip?”


After Reading

Summarize and Interpret:

Ask questions like these to gauge your child’s understanding of the story and how it can influence his/her own life:

Why did the businessman call in Cap’m Duffy and the Break of Dawn?

Why did Cap’m Duffy have to travel all the way down the East Coast to find a place to dump the garbage?

What happened to all of the garbage?

How can we be better at recycling in our home? Outside of our home?

Red Nose Studio included an incredible description of how they created the illustrations for this story on the book jacket of this book. Check it out to see how the creators used clay and recycled materials to make some of these wonderful sculptures!


Activity: Planting Flowers in Recycled Planters  

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Adapted from Damson Lane

Supplies: Large, plastic milk bottle with a handle, flower seeds (ex. Narcissus), scissors, PVA glue, paint, a paintbrush, and decorative materials (glitter, stickers, etc)

Not only does your child get to practice recycling by giving a milk bottle a second life as a planter, but s/he also gets to enjoy tending his/her own flowers and watching them grow!

  1. Cut the milk bottle in half and use the bottom part to make the planter and the top part to create the jug for watering.
  2. Now, mix paint and the PVA glue together to create a sticky paint to decorate your planter and water jug. It may take some time for the paint mix to dry. Once it has dried, continue to decorate them with glitter, markers, stickers and whatever else you’d like.
  3. Fill the planter with stones and soil and plant your seeds. Take this opportunity to try out your water jug and give your seeds their first watering. Now place your planter near a window or on a windowsill so that your flowers can get some sunlight.

To demonstrate different ways of recycling, leave your water jug outside when it rains and reuse that rainwater to water your buds! Be sure to continually water your bud and enjoy the moment when your flowers finally bloom! For more fun activities using recycled materials, check out this link for cool activities from Schools Recycle Right!

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