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story.lead_photo.caption (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

"Kids Fight Plastic"

BY: Martin Dorey, illustrated by Tim Wesson (published in the United Kingdom by Walker Books, 2019; in USA by Candlewick Press, 2020) ages 7-10, $19.99.

STORY: All the kids I know are turned on by the idea of saving the world from plastic, and some of those are boys who are reluctant readers (a stereotype, I know, but such boys do exist). This jaunty, heavily illustrated chapter book is a good fit for those boys, as well as for the eager readers.

And it delivers a vast amount of disturbing information about the proliferation of plastic in a way that doesn't suggest the planet is totally doomed.

The book describes "missions" to be accomplished as projects. Some are craft projects of the type kids have done for decades, but others might involve changing how a household works and, possibly, lording it over younger siblings. That's always fun.

The reader earns "points," some for reading the projects and more for doing them. Just earning points makes the reader a "superhero," but there are levels of superheroism: 0-499 points makes a 3-star superhero, the entry-level type who is "getting there, putting in the effort, trying hard. ... You care."

Earn 500-999 points and you are a "super-duper superhero" who is "showing real commitment" and, possibly, driving the less motivated adults of your household nuts.

The top level, 1,000 to 1,500 points, makes you the "Hero of Superheroes," and "how will you sleep at night with all the praise?"

Dorey created a beach-combing club, #2minutesuperhero, and his motivation is the bad effect of plastic in oceans. But most of the projects are for landlocked superheroes.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

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