________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 24. . . .February 26, 2010


Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint.

Femida Handy & Carole Carpenter. Illustrated by Adrianna Steele-Card.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2010.
24 pp., hardcover, $15.95.
ISBN 978-1-897187-69-2.

Subject Headings:
Nature -Effect of human beings on.
Recycking -Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Myra Junyk.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Bits of hotdog buns, squished pop cans, empty popcorn bags, even a bright yellow plastic mustard container – who would leave such a pile of trash? Didn’t they know about picking up after themselves? Hadn’t they ever heard of recycling?

Sandy was disgusted. The beach was so beautiful. Nobody had the right to spoil it like this. She picked up a grubby plastic bag and put the mustard bottle and the pop cans in it for recycling.

Sandy lives in the city with her parents and her dog Pepper, but she loves to visit her grandpa’s house by the seashore every summer. Grandpa tells her about sea animals and shows her crabs, seashells and tiny footprints made by birds. One day, Sandy makes a shocking discovery! There has been a bonfire on the beach, and someone has left a huge pile of garbage. Sandy gets busy cleaning up the mess. Soon she is joined by The Garbage Lady, a strange person who tells Sandy about her “footprint.” She explains how everyone has an ecological footprint (the mark that they leave on the world), and it is their responsibility to shrink it. How can Sandy help make the world a better place by making her footprint smaller?

internal art     Femida Handy and Carole Carpenter, the authors of this picture book, and Adrianna Steele-Card, the illustrator, want to engage very young readers in thinking about their footprints – the mark that they leave on the world. Femida Handy is a professor of Environmental Studies at York University, and Carole Carpenter established the world’s first Children’s Studies program at York University in 2006. By exploring the impact of a pile of garbage on a pristine seashore, this picture book engages readers in thinking about all the choices they make every day and their impact on the environment. What impact do our food choices have on the environment? Why is recycling so important? How can we shrink our ecological footprint?

     The wonderful illustrations show our heroine coming to terms with her “incredible shrinking footprint.” Adrianna Steele-Card is an illustrator who lives and works in the woods of Lanark Highlands in Ontario. She created unique collages which combine natural and recycled materials, such as leaves, birch bark and wool. The landscapes of the beach are full of interesting plants, animals and insects. Nature is very much alive in this picture book! The contrasting colours and textures represented in the various collages add dimension and interest as well as visual appeal to the story. However, at times, individual pages are so full of images that they appear to be overwhelming. On the cover page, the use of an actual red footprint to symbolize the letter “i” in the word “footprint” is a great way to emphasize the very personal nature of each and every person’s effort to change the world – one footprint at a time.

     The text of this picture book is very well suited for young readers. The vocabulary is simple and easy to understand. Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint also has great potential as a read-aloud. The beautifully written descriptions will intrigue young readers. In a classroom setting, this picture book could also be a great tool for engaging students in issues of environmental responsibility. The addition of a list of “Ways to Shrink Our Footprints” will inspire readers to begin the process of shrinking their own footprints!

Highly Recommended.

Myra Junyk, a literacy advocate and author, lives in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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