Friday, April 13, 2012

Garbage Books

Ok, ok, so these are not garbage books, but rather books about garbage. But I had to start with something. Going along with M's new passion for all things garbage related, we've been reading lots and lots of books about it.

Unfortunately, our otherwise excellent library doesn't have that many books about garbage trucks. I think they have about 4-5 non-fiction titles and we borrowed and read them all. This one was ok, although it didn't have as many different garbage trucks as M hoped for. But we made up for the lack of garbage truck diversity by going to Youtube for this video. The book itself was very simple to translate since it was beginner readers' books - big letters, present tense only, short sentences, etc.

This was our next book. We read through it a few times and M keeps looking through the pictures on his own. At this point, garbage collectors are his heroes. Last week he got to shake hands with the driver of the truck that picks up recycling in our neighborhood. That totally made M's day! The nice thing about this book is that each page has a little clock at the top that shows when a driver starts his day, finishes pick ups, drives to the landfill, fuels up the truck, etc.

I am always cautious about English-language story books, mostly because so many of them are written in verse. This makes them impossible to sight-translate into Russian. I Stink, however, is brilliant. It's not a poem so translating the story is a breeze. Basically, it's about a stinky and a bit grouchy garbage truck that is proud of its terrible smell. He even lets you in on the secret by giving out the recipe for his "alphabet soup" (it includes, among other objects, dirty diapers, puppy poo, stinky sneakers, moldy meatballs, etc, etc). That's where things get tough. When translating into Russian, I just gave up on the idea of keeping ingredients in alphabetical order or maintaining the alliterations. Still, it worked out great and M loved the book. We must've read it a couple of dozen times, if not more.

Plus we came up with a game based on the book. We would get a basket of our Russian magnetic letters and one of M's toy garbage trucks. We then would take turns pulling letters out of the basket and trying to come up with disgusting garbage that starts with that letter. If we succeeded, the truck got to "eat" the letter. It was fun and M actually asked to play it again after a while.

Now this book was recommended to us by our very helpful librarian, Mr. Erik. When I looked at it at first I was irritated. It was in verse! I don't read books in English to M (he actually asks me not to) and, as I mentioned, on-the-spot translation into Russian is a pain for books like this. But the pictures looked so awesome and M was so eager to hear the story, that he agreed to hearing it in English. And now I'm glad that he did and we read this book. It's simply awesome. It's beyond awesome. It's unbelievably great!

We read it five times in a row and then read it a few times each day for days! M quotes whole passages from this book (and he simply refuses to memorize any kind of poetry). This is the first book that he memorized so well, that I found him one morning sitting by himself, flipping through the pages and "reading" pretty close to the original text.

Ok, so this one is not a book. It's an audio book. Since it's not me reading, M doesn't have a problem with it being in English. He loves Judy Moody and Stink stories (too bad our library doesn't have that many of them on CDs). This particular one is about JM trying to save the world with help of recycling. Needless to say, it was a big hit over here. In fact, it inspired M to conduct a day-long garbage survey and weight in (but more on that later).

Books about garbage, recycling and garbage trucks that we haven't read yet, but might soon:

Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers (for now we watch this video on YouTube)
Garbage, Waste, Dumps and You by Connie C. Miller
Andrew Lost: In the Garbage by J.C. Greenburg (M loves Andrew Lost stories on CDs, but we haven't heard this one yet)
Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter
Garbage and Recycling by Rosie Harlow (looks like this book has lots of ideas for experiments)


  1. This is a great list. We really liked McMullan series too. I have to try Andrew Lost - I heard about this series before, but we haven't tried it here yet. Thanks for joining WMCIR!

  2. You stumped the librarian! My son has been into big trucks for a long time. I swore we've read every book about big trucks in my library, but we haven't read Smash! Mash! Crash! His favorite is Big Wheels by Anne Rockwell, which also has pigs as characters. I know he'll love this book.

    1. We wouldn't know about this book if not for our awesome librarian, Mr. Erik.

  3. Thanks, my daughter loves books in rhyme, so I bet she'll love "Smash Mash Crash!" I totally know what you mean about trying to translate good picture books into another language without losing the charm of the language. We started, like you, using English instead of Arabic for books that rhyme, but now I read with my older daughter almost all in English (she's 3.5). We still speak only in Arabic, though, and the baby still gets all her books in translation!

    1. I think we will eventually read more in English, especially as we get into chapter books. I try translating those as well, but it's just too exhausting even for shorter ones.