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The Dumpster Diver

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  213 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
One person’s trash is another persons’s treasure in this vivid picture-book ode to creative recycling — and to loyal friends.

Anyone can dive for treasure in the ocean, but Steve dives for it in his neighborhood dumpster! As he delves into the trash each weekend, Steve encourages his young neighbors (aka the Diving Team) to see the potential in what other people throw away.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Candlewick Press
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(showing 1-30 of 325)
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Jul 12, 2016 Melki rated it liked it
Shelves: children
While I applaud the author's message of recycle/reuse, the idea of encouraging anyone to leap into a dumpster full of vermin leaves me cold. Ick!
Sep 25, 2013 Natalie rated it liked it
Upcycling for the Kindergarten set. I enjoyed the appearance of the Kate Bush lp.
Lila Brantley
Feb 02, 2012 Lila Brantley rated it it was amazing
This book initially sparked my interest because I'm a hardcore dumpster diver. I have been since I was a kid (my dad taught me the tricks of the trade.) The feeling one gets when they find something completely incredible in the TRASH is amazing. I once had a garage sale with nothing but items I found in the trash and made 100.00! Ok ok..enough bragging about my trash-to-treasure skills. The book has great illustrations and isn't too wordy. I like picture books that aren't too wordy because I hav ...more
Mar 31, 2016 Hailey rated it really liked it
"The Dumpster Diver" is a children's picture book that is about a man named Steve and a couple of young children. Steve's nickname is the Dumpster Diver because he goes digging in dumpsters for treasure (useful things). The children all go with him and help him gather the treasures and clean it off, each have their own individual job. With the treasures they find, they make them into different and useful items. Once the dumpster diver gets hurt they decide to go around to people's homes asking f ...more
Thomasina Dinehdeal
Mar 31, 2016 Thomasina Dinehdeal rated it liked it
The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong shines light on critical issues as to throwing away items that are in perfect condition. Steve the electrician dives into the dumpster with a few friends in the neighbor grabs and grabs items that they think that could be reused. Diving into the dumpster, is that idea of consuming less while having fun and being creative. The items they would in the dumpster, they would create things that they could use. Buying new things is not will eventually get thrown out, ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Jen added it
Shelves: picture-book
(2007) This is a fun and quirky story set in NYC of a character, Steve the electrician, who turns trash into treasures. Every weekend Steve, with the assistance from the kids in his apartment building, digs for treasures in the dumpster behind the apartment building. Steve does the "diving" while the kids are in charge of cleaning off him and the items with a hose. On the weekends they transform their junk into creative inventions. They even find a computer to give to a woman in their building. ...more
Apr 11, 2014 D'Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: children
A book about a man named Steve who risks bodily injury literally diving into dumpsters in order to rescue usable junk, which he uses to make items of dubious safety, quality, and aesthetics. That said, on the page featuring Steve's apartment he is shown kicking back and listening to headphones and beside him is the most adorable cartoon rendering ever of Kate Bush's Hounds of Love CD, so Steve does have very good taste in some things. However, the fact that the CD is in his apartment probably me ...more
Mar 30, 2008 babyhippoface rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: creative, future inventors
Now, I know we don't want to teach our kids to climb in dumpsters to see what cool stuff we can find. (And I wonder if maybe that's why Wong chose to have Steve get hurt by dumpster treasure?) That being said, what a cool message this book has!

I always wanted to do stuff like this--take people's trash and turn it into neat "'inventions," but I wasn't the scientific inventor type, so the closest I ever got was making my own tabletop hockey game out of butter tubs and popsicle sticks. My mother th
Jan 26, 2014 Ashley rated it really liked it
The Dumpster Diver is a great book that shows some incredible things that can be made from what some might consider trash. I believe it could be used in any elementary age classroom and could easily go along with a project for students to make their own thing out of stuff they find. I really enjoy that the children share some of they have found or make things that will help other people. I also think that it was important that the author showed that maybe dumpster diving itself isn't the safest ...more
Laura Mcclanahan
Dec 02, 2013 Laura Mcclanahan rated it really liked it
Shelves: 544
Genre- Post Modern Picture Book

What is one man's junk is another man's treasure. This light-hearted text shows a group of kids that take after a kid-at-heart Steve who finds joy in the little things, especially when he can turn seemingly useless items into new toys and gismos. Janet Wong creatively writes the text on what appears to be trash- slivers of paper, grey duct-tape, torn doilies,etc. The text then appears catawampous across the page, as if in a trash scrapbook. Illustrator David Robert
Jill Pickle
Nov 06, 2014 Jill Pickle rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Behold: the exciting adventures of The Dumpster Diver. Steve and his friends turn other men's junk into their own treasure through creative, if slightly perilous, means. These kids are so hip and trendy, they probably don't even know it — their posse's actions are a great starting point for discussions with your children about recycling, art, invention, and doing good deeds.
The Brothers
Jan 24, 2016 The Brothers rated it really liked it
Shelves: recycling, trash
A great story about a man who enlists the help of some kids in the neighborhood to rescue treasures from the dumpsters ("one man's junk is another man's treasure"). The man ends up getting hurt and the kids figure out a way to glean items from dumpsters without diving for them - just ask people for stuff before they throw it away!

Excellent illustrations.
Natalie Haskins
Mar 23, 2013 Natalie Haskins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventurous, humor
A man and some of his neighborhood friends dumpster dive into trash! Most of the people in the neighborhood do not approve of his actions and look down upon it, however, it does not stop Steve from exploring his findings. Sometimes they use what they find and make something out of it to give to others. It is amazing of some of the things they come up with. This story has great truth behind it because things that we may consider trash can be formed into treasure. I would teach my students to not ...more
Meghan Hunt
May 17, 2013 Meghan Hunt rated it liked it
Shelves: jp-picture-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2014 Norkett rated it liked it
A bit odd, the characters anyway, but what they made from the "treasures" found in the dumpster were pretty imaginative.
Amy Baric
A man and some of his neighborhood friends all go dumpster diving in the alleys by their apartments. Obviously, some people don’t approve, but he doesn't care. His goal is to discover treasure that others have thrown away. Sometimes they work together to create something or they give the items to help others.
Obviously, the topic in this book is a little unconventional, but I think that it can present students with some ways they can discover treasure. I don’t think that you should encourage s
Oct 01, 2015 Kadie rated it it was amazing
Super cute story and illustrations about a dumpster diver that turns trash to treasure.
Kelsey Rippe
Dec 14, 2015 Kelsey Rippe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edu-365
This book was great in engaging learners. This would be a great way in the classroom to incorporate literature into math. Students can learn to count bug legs, measure, and construct just like the dumpster diver. The illustrations and text worked well together to create an engaging story where students become active learners.
Feb 24, 2015 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
Clunky. Tries to hard. Nice pictures same it from 1.5 stars.
Advanced Children's and YA Literature
A great addition to a makerspace library.
Jul 18, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: creative folks, kids who live in the city
This picture book cleverly presented the idea of dumpster diving within the larger idea of thinking creatively about what most people throw away -- what can be re-used and re-invented as something else? Grown-up Steve does the actual diving, but he's got three kid helpers who hose off the goods and brainstorm what to do with the treasure. The wacky illustrations are complemented by text written on duct tape, lace doily bits, and even a band-aid. A great message about conservation and creativity.
Oct 10, 2010 Marcie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Marcie by: Sylvia Vardell Text
Love the idea and creativity of this. I live in a suburb and think my husband, who brings home orphans from curbs and his friend Apple would enjoy this idea of "one man's trash is another man's treasure." I have to admit I was a little worried at the idea of recycling a computer, from a safety point of view, but it did remind me of the story of the people in
California who accepted dead computers and reconditions them for schools, etc. Maybe I'm being too analytical.
Alexandra Mickey
Nov 06, 2014 Alexandra Mickey rated it it was amazing
Me, being a hard core environmentalist and a passion to save our world, LOVED this book. I could totally see myself creating a fun activity for the kids to read this book, and then come up with a way they can use their trash at home to help the world. I really appreciated how catchy this book was and how much the pictures drew my attention as well. Great read aloud to use to introduce community involvement in recognizing how to better the environment.
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Crawling with cockroaches, crankiness and whole lot of creativity, this imaginative story of community recycling makes saving the earth a cheeky adventure.

For information about’s KinderHarvest magazine recycling initiative, click here.

Listen to our chat about this book on our Children's Book Podcast:

Vanessa Adams
Nov 30, 2012 Vanessa Adams rated it really liked it
This book would help me to discuss with the children in my classroom how items that others may think is trash can be reused to create exciting new things. Sometimes for children thinking of everyday items as different created things is hard to imagine. This book will make it easy to get their imagination rolling. We could build our school with recycled materials and that would incorporate a social studies activity in my unit of study.
Jul 27, 2007 Radym rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Joshua, Eli, Olivia & Adin
The book is great, except...

-- it doesn't make dumpster diving look too appealing (both inside covers are covered in cockroaches and other delicious bugs)

-- the principle dumpster diver gets seriously hurt and chastised for dumpster diving. Although I would say that one should be careful when dumpster diving (I've gotten hurt myself, before), I don't think it teaches kids a good lesson.
This is the first picture book I've seen about dumpster diving and I'm glad it exists! It's spirited and fun with lots to see. It does end with a sort of cautionary element about potential danger, which I feel *meh* about. I think it could have been handled differently. It's cool to see a picture book on this topic, though, and I hope to stumbled upon more!
Abby Morgan
I loved this picture book! The author taught environmental terms in a creative and engaging way for young learners. The illustrations definitely sparked my interest and got me thinking of ways I could go green. I will be sure to add this story to my classroom library and use it as a tool to teach about the environment!
So this one was a little odd. Steve goes dumpster diving for treasure. Like they say " one mans junk, is another mans treasure." He believes old things still are important. He also helps others with his finds. He as reals that have to be followed, but still manages to get hurt.
Feb 26, 2009 Molly rated it liked it
this was not what I thought it was going to be when I picked it up but I am glad I did. The first couple of pages are gross to me but it is about a man who just thinks old treasures are still worth something. I truly enjoyed it for what it is. Grades K+
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Janet S. Wong was born in Los Angeles, and grew up in Southern and Northern California. As part of her undergraduate program at UCLA, she spent her junior year in France, studying art history at the Université de Bordeaux. When she returned from France, Janet founded the UCLA Immigrant Children's Art Project, a program focused on teaching refugee children to express themselves through art.

After gr
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