Plastic Island
by David Cuellar
Trafford Publishing

"When we are in love with someone or something, there is no separation between ourselves and the person or thing we love." - Thich Nhat Hanh

A beautifully rendered flute-playing Native American boy wanders the earth, effortlessly gathering beings from land, sea and sky. Together, the boy, wolf, eagle, sea turtle, girl, and whale discover the ocean's floating plastic garbage patch and, by appealing to the United Nations, inspire the global community to clean up the mess.

Plastic pollution is certainly a problem, but the book's real message is that doing what you love generates great power. When the characters do what they love—the boy plays his flute, the wolf howls, the eagle soars, the turtle blows bubbles, the girl sings, and the whale sprays water—they feel :stillness in their minds and love in their hearts." In this state (called shunia by yogis), the characters become one with Mother Earth, who then leads them to the problem zone in the ocean. The solution comes easily when the characters again do what they love: play flute, howl, soar, blow bubbles, sing, and spray water for the United Nations, inspiring shunia among the adults and a selfless ocean clean up, for which Mother Earth gives thanks.

Children and adults will love the gorgeous colors used for the characters and the scenery. Adults will appreciate the educational introduction and final remarks, which succinctly explain the current floating garbage crisis and share Cuellar's philosophy and qualifications as an activist and teacher. Complex concepts such as loving what you do, caring for the earth, selfless cooperation, and shunia are difficult to convey. Cuellar does an excellent job of illustrating these values by having powerful animal and human symbols solve the universal problem of global pollution. For children and adults alike, Cuellar succeeds admirably with this non-preachy, well-illustrated reminder to do what you love and work in harmony to clean up Mother Earth. It's a message that children should hear.

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