Title: Better Than New
Author: Robert Broder
Illustrator: Lake Buckley
Publisher: Patagonia
Genre: Children’s picture book
Book format: Hardback
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Description:  “Will you help me?”
Isidora and Julian, playing in the Chilean ocean, hear a plaintive cry – a sea lion is tangled in an abandoned fishing net.  They free their ocean friend then wonder what to do with the net.  With the help of a bird, they recycle it into something useful again, something better than new.
This inspiring story educates children about the dangers of ocean pollution, then shows what they can do to help heal the earth.

*Free copy probided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is such a lovely picture book with such an important message.  Isidora and Julian live in a peaceful village by the sea.  The two begin the day by thinking about what they want to do, go swimming, collect sea shells, etc.  But when the two take a swim in the ocean, they hear a cry from below.  Swimming down into the water they find a poor sea lion who’s trapped in an abandoned fishing net.  Helping the sea lion Isidora and Julian see just how badly affected the ocean is with plastic, but is there something they can do to make it better?  The hardback book has a matt texture on the cover and is filled with thick matt pages of some really beautiful illustrations and text.

Better Than New book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

The story is good, showing the real life effects that plastic has on our oceans today.  The poor sea lion who is trapped is luckily soon helped by the children, but after hearing the sea lions tale of why the plastic is so bad, the children decide they want to do something to help the ocean.  The two kids end up taking inspiration from nature and even talking to another animal, this time a bird, before discovering what can be done with the plastic in the ocean.  I love how this story goes, with Isidora and Julian getting others involved in doing something with the plastic nets, and I love where they end up taking them and the clever way that that place is shown and how the characters working there all resemble animals.

Better Than New book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

The illustrations in this book are so lovely and so engaging and colourful to look at!  Each page and double page is so mesmerising to look at, there are so many lovely details to spot, some hidden animals and things, and I love the illustration style which feels slightly more surreal but is so good at the same time too!  The images of the animals especially the sea lion is lovely, and I love how expressive it looks, you can feel the pain and sadness and worry of the sea life in some of the images, it certainly made me feel for the creatures in the sea.

Better Than New book page image three
©The Strawberry Post

The book has a good ending with the children making something better than new out of the old plastic nets.  I like what they end up making and how this is shown to children through the slightly surreal looking recycling centre that processes the nets.  The story is good and the pictures really add to making this feel like such a lovely tale with such a happy ending.  The last page gives more information about the plastic problem in our oceans, as well as information on how the publisher of this book is working together with others to help make things better, including how children can get involved and I love how this book makes a point of being made completely from recycled paper and nothing new, adding to the environmental message.  The story is also written in two languages, both English and Spanish on each page, making this more accessible to readers who speak Spanish too.

Better Than New book page image four
©The Strawberry Post

Overall this is such a lovely picture book and one which really captures the plastic problem well and shows how it can be fixed in a good way.  The before and after images of the ocean are amazing to look at and the colourful images and slightly surreal look to the illustrations somehow just makes this so much more interesting to look at for me.  The story and the animals in the book also made me feel for their plight and it’s just such a good book to look at.  I hope it inspires children everywhere to help the environment and the oceans.  A book I can recommend!

What do you think of this book?  Do you like books with an environmental message?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂