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One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,455 ratings  ·  304 reviews
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.

The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terri
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published February 1st 2015 by Millbrook Press
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  1,455 ratings  ·  304 reviews

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Karen Witzler
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lovely true picture book story of a woman in the Gambia who decided to do something about the plastic bag garbage that was breeding mosquitoes and killing livestock in her community. She began a profitable project of collecting, washing, crocheting plastic bag strips into purses and pouches. Good for children who like stories about helping, recycling, African countries, the Gambia.
Laura Salas
I just read an advance copy (in the form of an F&G) of this book, and it is amazing. This is a beautiful, inspiring, true story. The text is spare and effective--my favorite sentence is, "She knows too much to ignore it now." Most of the writing is concrete and lovely: "It moves like a flag, flapping in the wind, and settles under a tamarind tree." Miranda Paul brings Gambia to life through all the senses, and illustrator Elizabeth Zunon combines engaging, colorful art and photos of the purses m ...more
"People thought I was too young and that women couldn't be leaders. I took these things as challenges; they gave me more power. I didn't call out the problems -- I called out solutions." -- Isatu Ceesay

This book is outstanding! It shows the positive difference one person can make by realizing there is a problem and actually being brave enough to do something about it. Little pebbles will make big ripples! Isatou's (EYE-suh-too) journey from a casual awakening to the existence of plastic bags to
Gorgeous artwork, without a doubt. Stunning, transporting, and emotive use of colors immerse readers - young and old - into Gambian culture and the brilliantly resourceful life of Isatou Ceesay. That, is the true beauty of this book; Isatou Ceesay saw the dire results of unsanitary hither and yon dumping of trash loaded with plastics around her village and took it upon herself to make a difference, one small plastic-woven coin purse at a time.

Over time, as more and more women joined in, Isatou
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Miranda Paul presents the interesting and inspiring story of Isatou Ceesay, a Gambian woman who became tired of the discarded plastic bags polluting her village and killing valuable livestock, so . . . she decided to do something about it.


I only wish the book had included instructions for making your own crocheted plastic bag.

Stephanie Anze
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
"People thought I was too young and that women couldn't be leaders. I took these things as challenges; they gave me power. I didn't call out the problems- I called out solutions."

Isatou Ceesay's weaved basket breaks as she is carryng fruit. She finds a plastic bag and carries her fruit there instead. Isatou likes her bag but notices that they accumulate more and more on the ground, causing serious damages to the soil and animals that roam. An idea is born. What if she could reuse these bags in a
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
ONE PLASTIC BAG tells the true story of Isatou, a Gambian woman who tackled the problem of plastic trash in her community by organizing women to recycle plastic bags into woven purses. Not only did she clean up her community and save goats from eating plastic, but she also empowered the women in her village.

The story is told simply and lyrically. One of my favorite refrains that shows up in different variations, goes like this: “One plastic bag becomes two. Then ten. Then a hundred.” The repetit
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really love this story. It illustrates how a little creativity and engineuity can solve two problems at once. Beautiful illustrations.
Review Copy: ARC (f&g) from publisher

This is a wonderful example of someone seeing a problem, thinking of a possible solution, and working together with others to make it all happen. Teachers are often looking for stories about everyday people making a difference in the world and Isatou Ceesay along with women in her community did just that. There were too many plastic bags littering their village and causing all kinds of problems, but they came together to make a change. I appreciated the resou
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Such an inspiring book! Isatou and her fellow women villagers clean up their village by collecting plastic bags and recycling them into a plastic thread with which they crochet purses to sell. I love stories like this. You don't need to do much sometimes to make a big difference. This book also points out that plastic bags are a health hazard to grazing animals, who get sick accidentally eating them, and to people, who catch diseases harbored by the insects who live in the water caught up in the ...more
Edward Sullivan
An inspiring true story of a Gambian woman who tackled the problem of plastic trash in her community by organizing women to recycle plastic bags into woven purses.
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is about the women of Gambia and their efforts to both recycle and beautify their country. Wonderful!!
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Her feet stop. She knows too much to ignore it now."
I loved this story about a small group of women in Ghana who work to improve the lives and environment of their small village - even when others say there's nothing that can be done, even laughing at the women and calling them dirty for trying. This reminds me so much of the quote by Maya Angelou: "When you know better, do better."
Isatou lives in a small village in Ghana that has become overrun with plastic bags. The bags are strangling the cr
Nicole Bills
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
One Plastic Bag: Isatau Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia is an excellent informational text to read to grades 3-5. This text informs its readers of how plastic bags can affect communities, both good ways and bad ways. It also features a unique way to solve the problem of having too many plastic bags accumulating on the ground.

I would use this book as an introduction to a recycling unit and/or ways to help the environment. Students may not realize the impact plastic bags have on commu
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
In One Plastic Bag, the memoir of Isatou Ceesay of Gambia, author Miranda Paul inspires readers as she shows the great impact of Isatou’s decision to remove just one plastic bag from the growing problem of plastic waste in her country. This small step led to successfully recycling these bags into stylish purses and improving the environment of Isatou’s village. This book, filled with beautiful, colorful, and realistic pictures provides a snapshot into a world that is unfamiliar to many readers f ...more
Kaitlyn Richard
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wow-books
This book is inspiring! I read this book as a part of my re-envision science lesson on plastic pollution. I was searching for an info text for Goodreads and realized how well this book worked! I loved the story because it told all about the negative aspects of pollution and how many ways to dispose the garbage was harmful as well. I like the perseverance that this book teaches. The women did not give up on their creative dream because of ridicule. The kept pushing until they became a success! I ...more
Jessica Burke
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wowbooks
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia is an excellent biography about the events that were happening in Gambia and the impact made my Isatou Ceesay and the other Women of Gambia. Plastic has been creating a negative impact on the worlds environment. The story of Gambia is a real account of this issue. In a small country, where the people would drop their plastic bags on the ground and would just continue on with their day. Isatou was tired of seeing the negative im ...more
Dani Kraft
One Plastic Bag
One plastic bag is a non-fiction story about a little girl named Isatou. Isatou is from Njau, Gambia. Here Isatou runs into a plastic bag in different parts of her life. The first time is when she uses one herself. This disappoints her grandmother, because the people in the city use a ton of plastic bags. Years pass in Isatou’s life, she then encounters goats who are in a pile of plastic bags. The goats are even eating the plastic bags. She then helps the goats and realizes this
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Oooo-eeeee, this is my kind of book! Ite tells how one woman in Gambia, after realizing that stinky, fly-attracting piles of plastic bags were making her village unsightly and unhealthy, came up with a plan to reuse/recycle them. In the long run, the women of the town have started one heck of a business enterprise! Illustrations are collaged and are lovely, as is the story. My last class at THA recycled plastic bags into PLARN and we made a sleeping mat for the homeless shelter. It took a lot of ...more
Erin Buhr
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are so many wonderful layers to this story. It's a fascinating true story. It's an inspiring story of turning something ugly into something beautiful. It's an empowering story of how something simple can help make your community better. It's an example of strong women, creativity, helping the environment. A thoroughly enjoyable book that leaves you feeling like you can make a difference.
My son and I both enjoyed it. He was particularly interested in the idea that plastic bags could be reused like that. He constantly tries to keep everything that enters the house so he can put it in his imagination box. We don't have a lot of plastic bags enter the house, but I think he'll be wanting to keep those now, too.
Jennifer Mangler
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The story of how Isatou Ceesay solved her community's plastic garbage problem is interesting and thought-provoking. It could really help start an exploration of how big a problem plastic pollution is becoming and different ways that people are addressing the problem.
Nadine Poper
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Miranda Paul has brought to life an important environmental message that we all can learn from. The steps the women of Gambia took to save their village was admirable and inspiring. Elizabeth Zunon's illustrations take you to the village and immerse you in their experience.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring, amazing account of how one seemingly small act of conservation can end up making a huge difference.
Rebecca Caufman
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Discover a problem...and find a solution. This is a great story about recycling.
Matthew Hoffart
1) Prompt brief sharing of personal experiences related to the topic: "Raise your hand if your family recycles things at home. Penelope, what's one thing that your family tries to recycle? Jason, what are some things your family recycles? What gets recycled in your classrooms?"
2) Activate background knowledge/foreshadow problem of the story: "What are some uses of plastic bags? (Why) do you recycle plastic bags? What happens to plastic bags when we are done using them them." (Predicted responses
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: state-awards
I think when I would start this story I would of course pull the book from a plastic bag. Then ask "What is this?" "What is it used for?" a bag, to carry things. "What else can it be used for?" (using the children's personal background knowledge) In this story we will be finding out what, Inatou, a girl in Gambia did with a plastic bag she found. (giving the student information to find and seek in the text) Then wrap the story perhaps show a mat made of recycled plastic bags that I had been seat ...more
Lu's Reviews
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
(July 2019, library book)
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture
The perfect book for celebrating the 50th year of Earth Day. Beautiful illustrations show the story of how 1 woman’s idea changed her community.

Well read by Miss Molly.
H. Dair
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely read this. But only if you want to feel hopeful!! 😉❤️
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Miranda Paul has worked as a teacher, volunteer zookeeper, and freelance writer--among other things. She is passionate about creating stories for young readers that inspire, entertain, and broaden horizons. Miranda is also a thrill-seeker, and one of her bravest moments involved reciting poetry from inside a crocodile pit. (Yikes!)

In addition to being a picture book author, Miranda is a team membe

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