The Wartville Wizard
Don Madden ~ Macmillan, 1986
Sometimes I stay away from books that I consider too mainstream or too in-print to focus on books that have faded out of view, assuming that just because it's in-print and still available that everyone knows about it. Then I remember that not everyone knows every book and I should still give the classics props even though they might be household titles. So here, for your viewing pleasure, is a post on my second favorite book for children with an environmental message. (Like I even have to mention what the first is?)
When I was little, I felt empathy for litter. Anytime I'd find myself walking down the street and leaving behind a candy wrapper, I'd inevitably feel sorry for it (being left behind and all) after a few yards and turn around to retrieve it. When I was in grade school, the anti-envronmental sentiment surrounding styrofoam was just beginning to surge, and I remember having the thought that people would use less of it if they were responsible for keeping all the styrofoam they ever used. That if they were saddled with their un-biodegradable garbage for the rest of their days, they'd be less likely to buy something in a styrofoam container. I imaged homes with huge piles of the stuff collecting in the garage and thought they should definitely make that a law.
Ends up, Don Madden had the same idea.
Meet the Wartville Wizard.
Every morning the man looked out his window and watched the birds playing in the birdbath. He saw the flowers dancing in the sunlight and the trees waving in the breeze. From inside, it seemed a perfect place. But when he went outside, he saw that it was not. Under the beautiful flowers he found soda bottles thrown from cars during the night. By the mailbox he saw juice cans, plastic cups and straws. Along the road he spotted more litter: empty cigarette packs, newspapers, candy wrappers, all kinds of trash. Once he found a worn-out baby buggy full of pacifiers. Another day he discovered a broken toilet seat leaning against a garden gate.
Every day the old man became angry. The more trash he saw, the more angry he got.
Well, eventually the man grows tired of picking up after his neighbors and whining about what slobs they all are, but it is when Mother Nature bestows upon him the power over trash that the story catches fire. With his new found wizard-tendencies, every bit of litter he spies, he sends right back to its maker, sticky-style.
Hilarity ensues when candy-wrappers soil the faces of every brat in town, cigar butts adhere to rich old men, and fancy women find garbage bags stuck to their butts. The moral of the story arrives swiftly, and soon the town of Wartville has learned a timely lesson in the art of picking up after yourself. Excellent read!
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