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What a Waste

Where Does Our Garbage Go?

By Claire Eamer
Illustrated by Bambi Edlund
Interest Age: 9–12
Grade: 4–7
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: SL.5.1,1c,1d,2,3,4,5

Reading Level: Lexile 1040L
Hardcover : 9781554519194, 96 pages, March 2017 , 9" x 6.5"
Paperback : 9781554519187, 96 pages, March 2017 , 9" x 6.5"
Rights sold: Korean

Table of contents

Chapter 1: The Beginning of Garbage
Chapter 2: Garbage Explosion
Chapter 3: Down in the Dumps
Chapter 4: A Recipe for Waste
Chapter 5: Down the Drain
Chapter 6: The Business End of Garbage
Chapter 7: Problem Garbage
Further Reading
Selected Bibliography
Image Credits


Hold your nose while you read about the disgustingly fascinating world of garbage!
What a Waste! answers the question: when we throw something away, where is “away”? Ever since cave people cracked open seafood shells for dinner, humans have produced garbage, and we’ve had to figure out what to do with it. What a Waste! explores the history of garbage from earliest times to today, covering subjects including dumps, human waste, water pollution, “problem” garbage, and modern “throwaway” culture. From islands made out of 5,000-year-old garbage in the Florida Everglades and sophisticated waste-disposal systems in ancient Pakistan to “fatbergs” the size of a city bus in sewers today, What a Waste! delves into the fascinating, weird, and often disgusting world of garbage, and shows why it’s a growing problem. Creative solutions are showcased, like Repair Cafés to fix broken items, grocery stores that specialize in “imperfect” fruits and vegetables, and filtration systems in Kenya made from discarded water bottles. With an inviting presentation including hand-lettering and humorous illustrations, this book will both educate and entertain young readers.


  • Short-listed, Canadian Children’s Literature Roundtables Information Book Awards 2018
  • Joint winner, Science Communication Award, American Institute of Physics 2018
  • Long-listed, American Association for the Advancement of Science SB&F Prize 2017
  • Short-listed, Youth Science Book Award, Science Writers and Communicators of Canada 2018
  • Runner-up, Green Book Festival Award 2017
  • Joint winner, Skipping Stones Honor Award 2018
  • Nominated, Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association 2017
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, *starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre 2017
  • Nominated, Red Cedar Book Award 2018
  • Joint winner, UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Book Club 2021


Awards and reviews for Before the World Was Ready
*Best Books for Kids & Teens 2014, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
*Lane Anderson Award
*Canadian Science Writers’ Association Award finalist
*Red Cedar Book Award finalist
*2015 Information Book Award finalist, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada
*2015 Rocky Mountain Book Award nomination

“Aside from providing interesting biographical reading, this book is replete with life lessons for adolescents and tweens about flouting popularity in the name of what is right.”—Booklist

“This engaging book has much to offer both children and adults and would be a wonderful personal gift or addition to any science classroom or library.”—The Guardian

Awards and reviews for The World in Your Lunch Box
*Eureka! Children’s Book Award, Silver
*Best Books for Children List, Science Books & Films
*Best Bets List, Ontario Library Association
*Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
*Next Generation Indie Book Award
*Red Cedar Award
*Recommended Reads List, Canadian Toy Testing Council
*Canadian Science Writers’ Association Book Award finalist
*Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award nomination
*Silver Birch Award nomination

“With a kid-friendly structure and super-goofy illustrations, this is probably the best book on the history and science of familiar food to have been published for kids in recent years.”—School Library Journal

“Elevating the mundane into the realm of fascinating science and pop history, this book also offers a successful formula for encouraging students to enjoy nonfiction texts.”—Booklist

“This empowering read will motivate kids to think about a problem very close at hand and to dream up possible solutions for the future.” 

- Booklist Online, 03/17/17

“Laid out in easy-to-read sections with plenty of colorful illustrations, this slim volume is readable yet comprehensive.” 

- School Library Journal, 03/01/17

“A smart overall survey sprinkled with choice nuggets of garbage lore. Dig in.” 

- Kirkus Reviews, 02/01/17

“This thorough overview of waste provides a great introduction to the topic and offers other resources and a great bibliography for follow up reading. Bambi Edmund’s humorous and engaging drawings will draw in the grades 4-6 readers, as will the sidebars of ‘smart ideas’, ‘cool facts’ and ‘trash talk’ and the constant flow of topics.” 

- Green Teacher, Summer/18