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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Trash! On Ragpicker Children and Recycling
by Gita Wolf and Anushka Ravishankar
Age Range: 9-11
Velu has run away to the city of Chennai from his village and the cruel beatings from his father. Here he meets Jaya, an astute young ragpicker who takes him under her wing and introduces him to her work. Velu finds life on the streets difficult and frightening. He must deal with Jum Bazaar Jaggu, the crafty Ruler of Rubbish who pays the ragpicker children for the rubbish they collect each day, and Dorai, the sinister moneylender whom Velu becomes entangled with.
The Jury for the White Raven 2001 from The International Youth Library in Munich described this book as “a true gem” and it certainly is. The fictional story is placed in context alongside the facts and arguments that tackle the issues connected with child labour, ragpicking and the lifestyle of the children who do this work, rubbish and recycling and schools for working children.
Trash evolved from a series of workshops with ragpicker children. In order to create an understanding of the lives of working children, real-life experiences were incorporated into the story. It is further enriched by the witty and imaginative illustrations of Orijit Sen with the startling colour artwork and use of intriguing photo-collage techniques. The attractive book design, together with the humorous treatment of serious issues makes this an idea book to introduce to UK children.