The True Adventures of Foamy and Leafy, by Pete Friedrich, is a children’s book that follows a few foam decorations as they make their journey through our ecosystem. To say this book has an agenda would be treating the topic too blithely. Trash, and how we deal with it, is a problem plaguing most of the technologically advanced societies on Earth. In New York several mayors over the years have instituted harsher penalties for not adhering to the rather draconian set of rules that are in place yet the city still isn’t all that clean. But I digress.
The True Adventures of Foamy and Leafy is the journey a piece of foam takes when it enters our waterways. It all starts when a child decorates a pumpkin with some foam stickers and it’s left to rot away outdoors. Foamy, our main character, blows down the street and winds up in a nearby creek, that creek leads to a river, which as all rivers do, leads to the ocean. Foamy floats along and we see that despite the blistering heat Foamy keeps her color, and since she is made from petroleum she repels water and floats. She heads south with the tides over the years makes her way through a slightly post-apocalyptic landscape that includes a desolate and abandoned Panama Canal.
We find out that Foamy’s friend Leafy was also sent along on a journey, though his was by road, and miraculously they would be together again. They meet at “the gyre.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, as I was, here’s an explanation.
A Gyre is a naturally occurring vortex of wind and currents that rotate in a clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere. These create a whirlpool effect, whose vortex moves more slowly at the center and that is where marine plastic debris collects.
By the end of our story the gyre, which in 2008 was larger than Alaska, had grown big enough to almost reach from California to China. This is where Foamy and Leafy settled down to spend their eternity or at least until they break apart into little plastic particles and float away.
This is a cute book, with pleasant art and lots of data to back up its message. I was moved to do a good amount of research on these amazing things I had never heard about. I live in a city that already insists on fairly strict recycling but a book like this definitely reminds me to pay attention to what I’m doing and think about how the things I consume interact with our environment.
The comic is available online from the LookMomComics website for $1.75. It’s the perfect book for teachers, parents, or individuals who want a look at the result of an industry we’ve come to rely much too heavily on, and what it may someday mean to our planet.