Plasticus Maritimus: A Dangerous & Invasive Species

Plasticus Maritimus

Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species (Greystone Kids, 2020) by Ana Pêgo with Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo P. Cavalho, translated by Jane Springer.

Learn about Plasticus Maritimus

Pêgo, a marine biologist and artist, has committed her life to the collection and study of ocean plastics. She even gave it a Latin name, Plasticus Maritimus, as a way to warn people about its dangers to the oceans and ultimately our planet. Presented in narrative form, this book is a comprehensive introduction to the plastic problem.

Field GuideAfter a short explanation on the importance of oceans, Pêgo provides a complete field guide to ocean plastics, covering what it is, how it is made, used, and thrown away (or recycled), and how it is detrimentally impacting our oceans. She also explains the different types of plastic, from the common (like water bottles) to the exotic (like microplastics). At the end, readers are given seven solid keys to changing habits necessary to solving this contemporary problem.

Why you’ll love this book

Beach trashPlasticus Maritimus is engaging and accessible for ages 10 and up.  While somewhat text heavy, it is well organized and broken into short paragraphs with bold headings. The table of contents is easy to follow, and throughout the text are engaging illustrations (brightly colored pencil drawings) and high quality color photographs of plastics and the art Pêgo has created with it.  There are also multiple side bars with interesting related facts.

Back matter includes an extensive list of resources, a source guide (divided by topics), and biographical information about the authors and the David Suzuki Institute, a non-profit organization founded in 2010 to stimulate debate and action on environmental issues.


Plasticus Maritimus received the BolognaRagazzi honorable mention in 2020. The BolognaRagazzi Award aims to select the finest illustrated children’s books worldwide. Here’s what the jury said about Plasticus Martimus, “A uniquely formatted and physically satisfying field guide to saving our planet through recognizing the harm of plastics and what we can do in the way of activism and creativity. It uses a variety of original artwork, including photographs, colour pencil sketches and imaginative graphics.”

This book was also nominated at the Festival du Livre et de la Presse d’Écologie (France, 2021) for the Ecological Book for Youth 2021, nominated for the Prix Sorcières 2021 (France), selected as a 2021 Outstanding Science Trade Books (USA), and nominated for best Portuguese Picturebook Illustrator, BD Amadora Awards (2019).

Creative Uses

check listObviously this book is a great supplement for life science, environment, and/or climate change curriculum. It also provides an opportunity to be creative. In addition to the photographs of upcycled art in the book, Pêgo created a Facebook page with photographs of the amazing art she and school children have created from recovered ocean plastics. You will also enjoy this short documentary about Pêgo’s artwork.

Even if you don’t live near an ocean, plastic is dumped everywhere, and Pêgo provides a check list of what to bring, as well as safety tips, for collecting litter. Also check out the Companion Guide for teachers and parents for more ideas. For updated resources, such as petitions and new scientific discoveries, regarding ocean plastics, click here.

Ready to learn more about plastic and other trash?

Drastic Plastic and Troublesome TrashDrastic Plastic and Troublesome Trash: What’s the Big Deal with Garbage, and How Can You Recycle? (Welbeck, 2021) by Hannah Wilson, explains what happens to all those things you throw in the garbage and how they impact the world around us. It also tells how different materials, like plastic, glass, paper, and metal are recycled, and offers fun and creative crafts you can make with upcycled materials around the house.

Plastic Sucks!Plastic Sucks!: How You Can Reduce Single-Use Plastic and Save Our Planet (Feiwel and Friends, 2019) by Dougie Poynter. Poynter, a popular musician and activist in the UK, brings his voice to encourage young people to lend their efforts to saving the planet. Supported by scientific studies, statistics, and interviews with activists, engineers, and scientists lend credibility.

What a waste What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet (DK Publishing, 2019) by Jess French. This book describes where waste goes, how it affects the planet, and ways readers can reduce the problem.

Also check out my review of Caterpillar Summer, a middle grade novel that touches on the protection of sea turtles and island dunes.

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