Anna Carton-Smith reviewed “Michael Recycle” for Living on Earth. (Photo: Eileen Bolinsky)
Shooting through the sky with a cooking-pot hat and tin can elbow pads, super hero Michael Recycle has a mission: to get kids recycling. Host Bruce Gellerman turns to nine-year-old Anna Carton-Smith for a review of the book, “Michael Recycle” by Ellie Bethel.
GELLERMAN: Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane! No, it's...Michael Recycle. Faster than a speeding windmill, able to leap stinking garbage dumps in a single bound, crush plastic with his bare hands – Michael Recycle is showing kids how to recycle one rhyme at a time.
He's the superhero in a kid’s book by Ellie Bethel. We challenged Michael Recycle to a tough test – kid booklover Anna Carton-Smith.
GELLERMAN: What age group do you think this is good for?
CARTON-SMITH: Well, I think it would be really fun for five, six, seven and probably eight, but like it doesn't mean that like my age or older people might not like it, too, it's just that I think that would be a very good age to read this book.
GELLERMAN: Well let's read something here from the book and see what it sounds like, ok?
There once was a town called Abberdoo-Rimey
Where the garbage was left to rotten and slimy.
It never smelled fresh. The air was all hazy
But people did nothing. They got rather lazy.
GELLERMAN: Would you like to live in Abberdoo-Rimey?
CARTON-SMITH: Not at first.
GELLERMAN: How come?
CARTON-SMITH: Because it's all filthy. And nobody – everybody litters, and it's – gross.
GELLERMAN: What do you think of the rhymes?
CARTON-SMITH: I think it's really cool how they rhymed it, and it's really, like, smart, and how everything fits together.
And then something happened that none could explain.
It wasn't a bird and it wasn't a plane.
A green-caped crusader soared through the air,
With a colander hat on top of his hair.
I'm Michael Recycle! And I have a plan!
But I need your help – everyone to a man.
The sky and the river are smelly and brown.
Soon fifty-foot bugs will take over your town!
You've got to recycle! You've got to act soon!
Before all your trash reaches to the moon!
GELLERMAN: Don't you know all about recycling now? I mean you're nine years old.
CARTON-SMITH: Yes, like you can recycle, like, old food and make it dirt.
GELLERMAN: Isn't that smelly?
CARTON-SMITH: It's smelly, but it helps.
GELLERMAN: Yeah? How does it help?
CARTON-SMITH: It helps the dirt and soil and, I guess the worms, I guess. (laughs)
GELLERMAN: So why do you need a book to tell you about recycling?
CARTON-SMITH: Well, it's just also fun. So say I was nine years old and I didn't know, this would help me a lot. But even if I do know, then it'd still be really fun.
GELLERMAN: Now, do you recycle?
GELLERMAN: You really do – you don't ever throw away plastic stuff, and...
CARTON-SMITH: Maybe I do sometimes, but I do recycle a lot.
GELLERMAN: There you go.
Then he crunched a can. He gave them a wink.
And vanished from sight before they could blink!
So if you should see a green silhouette
streaking the skies, please don't get upset.
The noise you hear – that clunk and that thunk –
It's just our friend Michael, recycling old junk!
GELLERMAN: (chuckles) You know what I like about this picture?
CARTON-SMITH: The guy's like, uh – I think he's singing.
GELLERMAN: No he's screaming. He's got like, his tonsils are hanging out. (laughs)
GELLERMAN: Do you have a brother or a sister? A younger brother or a sister?
CARTON-SMITH: Yes, I have a brother.
GELLERMAN: How old is he?
CARTON-SMITH: He's six, almost seven.
GELLERMAN: Would you want him to read this?
CARTON-SMITH: Yeah, I would, because then it would show him to recycle and stuff, because he doesn't know a lot about it, but still.
GELLERMAN: Do you think – what do you think, is it important to have books about recycling or – you already knew this stuff. I mean, here you are composting, and you –
CARTON-SMITH: Well, I, well I think that this book is important to maybe probably people who don't recycle as much, and it can show them that you should start recycling to make it better for the world. But like, it reminds me, too, again to just keep doing that, and, yea.
GELLERMAN: Well, Anna, it was a pleasure. I really enjoyed it.
CARTON-SMITH: I did too.
[MUSIC: R.E.M. “Superman” from “Life’s Rich Pageant” (Capitol Records 1986)]
GELLERMAN: Anna Carton-Smith lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. The book is 'Michael Recycle' by Ellie Bethel.
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