By Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka
annick press. 2019
Grades 5 and up
In simple language and lots of graphics, Follow Your Stuff wants readers to know the "chain of connections" between the item we purchase and how that item was manufactured. They hope, armed with this knowledge, consumers will think before they purchase.
Would you still buy that new smartphone if you knew that one of the ingredients, coltan, is often dug by hand in The Democratic Republic of Congo? And, that since the mining industry is not well regulated, coltan might be extracted from national parks, forests, and animal sanctuaries? That the sale of coltan may purchase weapons that are used in The Democratic Republic of Congo’s decade’s long war?
The book follows the chain of connection with a t-shirt, medicines, books, high tech computers and smart phones, and glasses. The author’s explain that each stage of the before and after of the production of everything is connected to millions of people around the globe.
For example, you may say you’ve made a cake from scratch, but in reality, “Someone else grew the wheat. Someone else harvested the sugarcane, and other people turned that into the sugar you used. Same thing for the flour, the milk, the icing, the food coloring, the chocolate, the candles, the…you get the idea.”
As the author's lay it all out, what readers will understand is that “the deeper you look, the more you realize that almost EVERYONE who does a job is somehow related to that shirt.”
Cartoon-like graphics are throughout, as are sidebars with more information.Speech bubbles throughout pose questions to make us think a little deeper about where our goods come from and how they are made.
When sharing this book with students, emphasize how interconnected we all are here on Earth. The question that is important for all of us to ask, “Do I really need that new sweater, iPhone or computer game?” By understanding our inter-connectivity to the people in that global chain of connections who make the product may help young consumers when making their next purchase.
To write this review, I borrowed a copy of the book from my local public library.