Children’s books are best reviewed by children, and this is most definitely a children’s book that your children should be reading – so say my two, who consumed this book like Western consumers consume cheap toys and electronic goods at Christmas. This being the antithesis of the point the book is making. Spud Goes Green is a very British book at first reading, but change a few words, and the wonderous exploration that Spud undergoes with the help of his rather surreal friend, Adi, becomes a universal tale of hope.
I don’t like using the word “hope”, because it implies we can lie back and let things happen; however, with children you really cannot force things, they have to discover them for themselves. Leave a few helpful pointers, give them a bit of information, and they will find out for themselves what works, often far quicker and creatively than mere adults – those of plastic minds and set ideas. Spud wants to learn, like all children who have not been orientated in the ways of the consumer culture, and the ways that he finds out how to reduce his impact in the planet are often hilarious: “ALIENS, ALIENS, ADI! THE COURGETTE ALIENS! THEY ARE TRYING TO CONTACT YOU…” (no, I’m not going to explain, you have to read the book yourself); often intriguing: “Pips from old varieties of fruits like Cox’s apples are best for planting as they have better genes”; and always interesting: “Fridges use less electricity if they are kept in a cold room like a garage or utility room. This is because they don’t have to work so hard to chill the food”.
Giles Thaxton, the author, is clearly a man who knows his stuff, and despite reading this book through twice (and enjoying it both times) I have yet to find a fact I could argue with – it’s just a shame he is so media-shy, because I would have liked to have asked him where he gets his inspiration from. The layout of the book and the artwork are tremendously appealing, as is the use of language which doesn’t patronise in any way, but explains things so clearly you often don’t realise you have learnt something new until you think about it. If only more children were like Spud and Adi, then we might have a generation that cares for the planet rather than wanting to live the disastrous lives of their parents.
My younger daughter had this to say: “It’s a really brilliant book with lots of facts and interesting ideas. It would make me think about doing things next year as a new year’s resolution.” So there you go – if you live in Europe then you might be able to get it in time for Christmas, and help you children become greener than you. If you live anywhere else, then buy it anyway, there’s still time to catch up with Spud.