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Clean up!


Nathan Bryon, illus. Dapo Adeola
Puffin Books
Age 5-7

Rocket is really excited; she is going to visit Grammy and Grampy who live in Jamaica. They run whale watching tours, own a wildlife sanctuary AND Grammy is brilliant at surfing! While there, Rocket is shocked by the amount of rubbish on the beach and how it is affecting the wildlife. She decides to do something about it.

This is a delightfully illustrated story with a determined main character who sets out to make a difference. This is a story to raise awareness of the threat of plastic pollution on our oceans and ocean creatures and encourage small scale activism.




Share the story

Read aloud
Before reading the story, you might like to look at the cover together and talk about what the story might be about. If children already know ‘Look Up!’ by the same team they might remember Rocket and her family.

Read the story aloud pausing to talk about what is happening in the story or pictures when your child wants to.

Join in
When they are familiar with the story children could join in for example with all the things Rocket is looking forward to doing in Jamaica, conversation with Grampy and the ‘Did you know’ page.

Talk about the story

  • Rocket is very excited – talk together about times when you have been excited about going on holiday or on a trip. What would you pack if you were going away on holiday?

  • Look at the page where Rocket imagines what she would do in Jamaica – share thoughts on which things you would like to do – eg surf the waves or dance with a dolphin? Fist bump a turtle or high five an octopus?

  • Have you been to the seaside? What do you remember? What do you like best about being near the ocean?

  • If you child has grandparents talk about where they live, are they near or far away? Do you know anyone who lives in Jamaica? What do you know about it?

  • Did anything surprise you about the story and is there anything you want to find out more about?

  • Which is your favourite page?

    Clean up

    This book grabbed our attention straight away with the bright colourful front cover and snappy title. It was also a great starting point for discussion wondering why the girl was surfing through the rubbish, what danger the turtle was in and what we thought the book might be about.

    Straight away we were hooked, we have a grandparent abroad near the beach and love being outdoors at the beach or on the water. We started reading the book at the start of a summer of water adventures and each time we looked for rubbish and had really good chats about how rubbish gets in the water. We visited various beaches in Dorset, Worthing and went paddle boarding locally. None of the beaches had any rubbish and we knew Rocket from the book would be very proud. We did however see rubbish when we went to Bristol near a jetty for a water taxi and at Southampton dock where we managed to get it out much to the children’s joy. The children were really careful about making sure their rubbish went in bins and really conscious about waste over the holiday which was lovely to do it in a fun way.


    We had a look at some of our food packaging and waste, Lizzie often helps with the recycling, so she helped sort through. We had a chat about what she personally could do to reduce her waste and what food we ate with packaging we could avoid. She now has her school snack in a reusable bag which again we think would make Rocket proud.

    We had a look at the hard plastic packaging recycling for one week and made a mermaid sculpture out of it to see exactly how much we had and link back to rubbish in the oceans. We had good discussions about what we could do to reduce it as a household and talked about what we were doing well and what we needed to improve on.

    Next, we did the science experiment, we chose 5 different items to bury in soil and then check back each week to see what had rotted away and what hadn’t. We made predictions and recorded our results and the children were really keen each week to see what had happened.

    Such a great fun book for having some really good discussions and making some really good changes. The story is written in a fun way and the illustrations are lively and really add to the story with brilliant facial expressions, and an insight into Jamaican culture. We loved the variety of activities and the mix of art, writing, science and geography and learning about a really important subject  in a fun way.

    We didn’t get to make such a big contribution as Rocket but we are doing some small things differently and have made a start.



Things to make and do

Make a ‘Did you know’ book
Find out more about plastic pollution in the ocean using the information in the book and other information you find (see links below). Make a zig zag book and start each page with ‘Did you know … then write your fact with an illustration.

Make a sculpture
In the story an artist makes a sculpture from plastic waste found on the beach. Children could save some plastic containers and make a sculpture from it perhaps shaped like a sea creature like the one in the story. This link might give you some ideas.

Make a poster
Make a poster to go in the park or at the beach to encourage people to take their rubbish home and keep the beach or park clean. you need paper A4 or larger thick pens or crayons. A ‘slogan’ a clear message – practice on scrap paper and an image.

Be a plastic detective
Looking at the shopping as it is unpacked and the products in your cupboards, to see how much plastic is used. Is it all necessary? Could your family buy shopping with less plastic packaging? Let your child help you sort your rubbish for recycling, maybe setting up different bins for different material.

Do a science experiment

Experiment to find out how long different materials take to decompose. In a container, such as an old fish tank, or washing up bowl place a layer of soil. Choose items together to see if they decompose eg a banana skin, newspaper, cardboard box and a plastic container. Cover with another layer of soil and dampen with a drop of water. Churn over every 4 or 5 days with a metal spoon. Check after two weeks to see if any of the objects have started to decompose by raking through the soil or tipping onto newspaper. You may prefer to wear protective gloves for this. Talk about what you find with your child and what this means to the environment. Find out about how long it takes for plastic to break down – see links below.

Find out more

Watch the book’s creators, Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, introduce  the book and talk about their own top tips for reducing plastic and saving the oceans here  

Read another book about plastic pollution ‘A Planet full of Plastic’ by Neal Layton.

Find out more about pollution in the oceans here and here on Newsround 2015

Find out about whales and whale conservation here

Find out about Jamaica here

Look at a globe or atlas and try to find Jamaica on it.

Imani Wilmot is a famous Jamaican surfer who is mentioned in the story. She describes herself as a ‘wave dancer.’ Watch a video to see why

Read Look Up another book by the writing and illustrating team about Rocket and her family. See our activity ideas here