One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey

one little bag

An evocative wordless picture book that is a loving tribute to mindful living on our precious planet.

From a tall tree growing in the forest-- to the checkout counter at the grocery store-- one little bag finds its way into the hands of a young boy on the eve of his first day of school.

And so begins an incredible journey of one little bag that is used and reused and reused again.

In a three-generation family, the bag is transporter of objects and keeper of memories. And when Grandfather comes to the end of his life, the family finds a meaningful new way for the battered, but much-loved little bag to continue its journey in the circle of life.---from the publisher

48 pages                978-1338359978                 Ages 4-8

Keywords:  bag, multigenerational, family, recycling, green living, environment, journey, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, connections, wordless, conservation

Other reviews: * "Deeply profound... compelling... emotionally resonant." -- School Library Journal, starred review

* "Elevating the life of an ephemeral object to the time scale of love across generations." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review


“Some of them were angry

At the way the Earth was abused

By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power.

And they struggled to protect her from them

Only to be confused

By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour.”

-- Jackson Browne, “Before the Deluge” (1974)

“Reusing containers is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to reduce the environmental impact of packaging.”


A sampling of the containers we clean out and repeatedly reuse in our household:

Paper, plastic, and compostable bags in which fresh produce is delivered.

Large ziplock plastic bags in which lavash is packaged.

Bags in which bread and greens are packaged.

Round, snap-lid,  yogurt containers.

Large, cube-shaped, plastic cashew containers.

Veganese jars.

Coconut oil jars.

Salsa jars.

Wasabi powder jars.

Roasted red pepper jars.

We do have some new ziplock freezer bags, but they get used sparingly--only for the freezer--and then repeatedly reused. Instead of using new containers. we soak off jar labels; rinse out plastic bags; wash plastic containers; and fold up the lunch bag sized paper bags. There’s a big plastic shopping bag hanging in the cabinet next to the refrigerator full of recycled bags at the ready. In another cabinet is an entire shelf of recycled jars.

Then, there is the bin of reusable shopping bags which haven’t been getting a lot of use during the pandemic.

If one is rightly worried about Mother Earth and the need for our grandkids to have a liveable planet, it makes sense to conserve energy and natural resources by reusing containers. Every one we reuse is one less that needs to be manufactured. Given the existential threat of climate change, as well as the enormous floating islands of plastic in the oceans, I feel guilty throwing out reusable containers (notwithstanding the plastic bags that’ve been reused for chopped onion).

ONE LITTLE BAG is a notable, environmental-related, wordless picture book that depicts a tree that’s felled, transported, ground to pulp; made into paper; and fabricated into a lunch-sized paper bag, which then goes on to have more lives than a cat.

Author-illustrator Henry Cole employs Micron ink pens to create black-and-white illustrations covering the life cycle of this well-loved paper bag. The paper bag with the many lives is colored paper-bag brown to stand out amidst the black-and-white illustrations.

The story begins with one tree colored brown amongst a forest of black-and-white trees. We see the brown-colored tree on a flatbed full of felled trees; some brown-colored pulp among the mountains of pulp; and the resultant brown bag at the end of the assembly line.

The bag comes into the possession of a young boy. The boy grows up with the bag, which goes on to be used for lunches; as a light shade; for busking; for holding an engagement ring and then for flower petals strewn by the flower girl; and other creative applications.

The book also deserves props for its 21st century sensibilities which include depictions of a male caregiver and an interracial couple.

The author explains in the back matter that the book was inspired by his own reuse of a lunch bag in the wake of the first Earth Day.

Sharing ONE LITTLE BAG: AN AMAZING JOURNEY will be a perfect starting point for discussing reuse, recycling, and sustainability with young children. It will well complement my old fav, Molly Bang’s COMMON GROUND (1997), in that role.

I hope that ONE LITTLE BAG: AN AMAZING JOURNEY will be nominated for, and recognized by, the Green Earth Book Awards committee.

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

See more of his recommendations:  Richie's Picks <

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