On one level, this is a spritely reworking of the favourite tale of a toy – or in this case, a toothbrush – thrown away and its subsequent exploits as it makes its way back home. In this instance though, the toothbrush’s adventure also shows readers lots about the impact on the planet of the simple act of throwing something away, especially if it’s made of plastic.
Sammy is Sofia’s first toothbrush and she proudly draws an S on his tummy but even so, when his bristles are worn down, Mum throws him in the bin. In a cargo of rubbish, Sammy travels across the seas, before finding his way into a river, and from there back into the ocean to start the long journey back to Sofia. Along the way, he meets plastic bottles, plastic straws and plastic bags, all floating in the ocean, before a kindly albatross gives him a lift for the last leg.
Via Sammy’s adventure, M.G. Leonard cleverly delivers a message about the harm discarded plastic is doing to our oceans, and shows how it is the responsibility of all of us, even the young, to change things – for a start, the book suggests we all use bamboo toothbrushes in future. Though the message is an important one, the delivery is fun and best of all, hopeful. Daniel Rieley injects Sammy and his plastic friends with a cheerfulness and positivity that we all need, and this is a very good, very entertaining and accessible piece of environmental education.