Jul 05, 12
Read in July, 2012
The loss of a cargo of 28,800 Floatees toys in the midst of the Pacific captured the author's imagination when he first heard of it from a student's essay, and it inspired this far-flung exploration. He isn't the only one to do so; Eric Carle wrote a children's book about the same incident, and news outlets in many places picked up the story at one time or another. Hohn pursues first perhaps the most obvious question - the one of litter and pollution in the oceans. After going over that perhaps as well as an amateur can, he moves on to questions of toy manufacturing in China, transoceanic shipping, and modern oceanography. He also delves philosophically into ideas of childhood, play, culture, and consumerism. More than just using it to make a punny title, Hohn also uses Moby Dick as a touchpoint in discussions of the allure and strength of the sea, of the way tales of great journeys and juxtapositions capture our attention. The great thing about this book is that Hohn travels all over to experience what he wants to write about. He goes beachcombing and litter cleaning in Alaska and Hawaii, crosses the Atlantic in a Panamax cargo ship, tours a Chinese toy factory, attends a toy trade show in Hong Kong, travels with more than one scientific vessel - overall, Hohn provides himself with personal and relevant experiences that help him bring the story to life and explain why he thinks it was worth writing a book over in the first place.