April 10, 2017

Cybils Finalist Review: TRASHED by Derf Backderf

Synopsis: This is my last Cybils 2016 graphic novel finalist review! Last but not least is Trashed by Derf "Not His Real First Name" Backderf, an edutaining chronicle of the life cycle of garbage, and the trials and tribulations of a garbageman (apparently loosely based on a job the author actually held for a while).

Observations: I enjoyed the blending in of factual sequences describing the job details of a garbage collector and the journey garbage takes from curb to landfill and into the environment. It's bound to make readers think more about the trash they produce and about garbage as a global issue. As an older reader and homeowner, it was eye-opening to see things from the garbageman's perspective, and how we might not think twice about dumping random crap in the trash but it is truly somebody's job to deal with it, and it may have ramifications beyond just the mess in your garbage can.

The comic-strip style of this one was also enjoyable--plenty of humor in both the writing and the images, distinctive character art, and easy-to-understand diagrams in the educational portions. Having said that, because it IS distinctive, it won't be to everyone's taste; I wasn't sure if I'd like it at first because the characters have a weird blockiness to them that was a little off-putting, but it grew on me. (Which, in retrospect, seems like a terrible word choice for a book about garbage...)

Conclusion: There was plenty of hilarity here, in an old-school comic strip kind of style, and it offers an intriguing, humanizing window into the life of a garbageman as well as the life of garbage itself. The combination of educational elements with slice-of-life stories about the protagonist J.B. and his buddies was well done. The characters, of course, of necessity are adult characters, so that part doesn't feel very YA, I suppose, but older young adults might enjoy this one.

I received my copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. You can find TRASHED by Derf Backderf at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!

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