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The Tale of the Toothbrush

The Tale of a Toothbrush: A Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

Published: 1 Feb 2020

Paperback / softback, 32 pages

Recommended for age 3+ and 5+

By M. G. Leonard

Illustrated by Daniel Rieley

Published by Walker Books Ltd

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Children use their toothbrush each morning and evening and get new ones every few months.

That's billions of toothbrushes! What happens to them all when they're no longer needed? And if toothbrushes take thousands of years to break down, what does that mean for our planet? With a fun cast of plastic characters, from pirate-ship bottles to dancing shampoos, and even an inquisitive albatross, The Tale of a Toothbrush is a positive and heart-warming story to help children explore the impact their choices have on our planet.

Tagged environment , everyday materials , oceans , plastic and pollution

M G Leonard talks to Nikki Gamble about her novel, Twitch, which does for birds what Beetle Boy did for beetles. Listen here...

The Materials pack

Easy purchase - add our curated pack to your basket with one click

An easy-purchase topic pack of children's books to support the topic Everyday Materials. You can purchase individual titles or the full collection.

  • The Glassmaker's Daughter
  • Nano
  • The Tindims and the Ten Green Bottles
  • Let's Build a House
  • The Great Paper Caper
  • The Tale of a Toothbrush: A Story of Plastic in Our Oceans
  • Wood
  • Water
  • Rock
  • Plastic
  • Where Do Clothes Come From?
  • A House in the Woods
  • Ways Into Science: Everyday Materials

Reviewed by Rebecca Simpson-Hargreaves

The Tale of a Toothbrush is a magical story that looks at a real pressing ecological issue.

M.G. Leonard’s tale follows the adventure of a much-loved child’s toothbrush. Sofia is distraught when her mother decides to replace ‘Sammy’ her worn-out toothbrush, and he feels the same way. Discarded in the bin, he finds himself whisked away to a faraway rubbish dump, wondering what to do next. The determined brush travels over land and sea trying to get back to her. Delightfully illustrated by Daniel Riley, it warms the heart while raising awareness.

An excellent text that deals with the issue of plastic pollution in a way that is accessible for all. At the back of the book, there is a section about the problems we face using plastic and what we can do to improve things. This story would appeal to all age ranges.

The Tale of a Toothbrush would be an ideal addition to any class or school library. It supports the topics ‘materials’ and ‘the environment’ in science. Fruitful discussions in Philosophy for Children sessions would give children an opportunity to unpick various themes in the book.

Another title reviewed here with a similar theme for this age group is Karen Swann’s The Tale of the Whale.

I am a lecturer in Primary Education specialising in English at the University of Manchester. Lover of picture books, poetry, non fiction and fantasy. Passionate about using children's literature to develop children's empathy, self-awareness and social justice and human rights.