Ella and the Useless Day
Walker Books, 2022
32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99
When Dad takes a tumble in Ella’s room because it is so full, just like the rest of the house, it is clearly time for a clean-out. And so, together, they search, scramble, sort, poke, pick and pile all the useless stuff they find into the trailer to take it to the tip, where useless things go.
But is it really useless? Or is their truth in the old adage that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Because by the time they get to the tip, all that is left in the trailer is a bag of fabric scraps and they even find the most delightful use for that.
Meg McKinlay can always be relied on to tell an entertaining story, always unique, and this is no different. With its subtle message of sustainability at a time when spring cleaning and all sorts of sort-out, clean-out resolutions seem to grip us, this is a timely release to encourage us to think about what can be reused, repurposed or recycled instead of going to the growing mountains of landfill. But really, what can be done with a rusty tricycle, a blanket full of holes, an ugly suit or a cracked fish bowl? Or any of the other items community members claim as Ella and her dad make their way to the tip? Young readers could have lots of fun predicting the new life each object might have, and then enjoy Karen Blair’s final vignettes of just what their new owners did with them.
Perhaps this is the perfect book, the perfect time and the perfect opportunity for children to clean out their bedrooms and have a community swap-and-save sale to build awareness of the need to be less of a throwaway society, to offer their things a new life in a new home and to be an example to the grown-ups in their lives.