Review of Bumba the panda learns to recycle

Filed in Blog, Product reviews by on June 30, 2009 0 Comments
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Bumba the panda learns to recycle by Greenfly books

Bumba the panda learns to recycle by Greenfly books

This week a copy of  ‘Bumba the panda learns to recycle’ plopped through the letterbox at zero waste towers for us to review.

The book is by a student Enterprise Company called ‘Greenfly books‘ and on the back cover Bumba the panda hopes you enjoy keeping the planet green.

Well, Bumba, we certainly do enjoy helping to keep the planet green and we hope you’re going to help us spread the message!

Greenfly books

Greenfly Books describe themselves as a new innovative Young Enterprise Company who specialise in Children’s activity books on green issues.

Greenfly Books aims to teach children from an early age 2-5 about subjects such as recycling.

About ‘Bumba the Panda learns to recycle’

This is the first book from Greenfly books in which Bumba the Panda, with his friend the greenfly, learn to recycle.

It is a story book combined with activities on some of the pages such as spot the difference, count the number of cans for recycling and find the right piece of recycling to go into the various bins.

The book arrived in a jiffy envelope, which has been carefully opened and saved for reuse.

The good bits

  • The book is printed on 100% recycled paper using vegetable based inks; so is a more sustainable choice.
  • Obviously we are very excited about the topic – teaching children about recycling from an early age so that it becomes ‘normalised’ is very important to us.
  • We like the interactive side to this book. Books for young children with activities, textures or lift-the-flap are very popular and help keep the focus as you explore the book together.
  • Cost £3.99 – a bargain for everyone.

What Little Miss Green likes

  • Some of the illustrations look like they are made out of rubbish. She says ‘I thought the sun was a good idea because it looked like it was made from recycled stuff’ and ‘I like the way they make the writing look like it has been torn out of paper and stuck on the page.’
  • She also likes the cheerful pictures and says “the butterflies and flowers look as if they are cheering him on saying ‘Well done Bumba” and “my favourite thing is he backgrounds on every page. Each one has lots of nature on it and little shoots in the grass.’ She also remarked that she liked the bright colours. (this is especially good as vegetable based inks can be quite ‘muddy’ in colour saturation.

The bad bits

  • Unfortunately, there is a lot that can be improved about the quality of the content and the story itself. To begin with, Bumba asks ‘What is recycling’  and the question is never specifically answered. It is just assumed and implied as you read through the book.
  • Later in the book, the word ‘recycling’ is changed to ‘rubbish’ which loses the thread for me and is confusing.
  • On another page there is the statement ‘Rubbish can be recycled to make bigger and better things’ and the illustration is of Bumba looking up at an aeroplane. I’m stuggling to find out what this means – what is the message behind this picture?
  • At the end of the book Bumba says ‘I know what recycling is now and can do it every day’. I’m afraid that if I knew nothing about recycling, I still wouldn’t by the end of the story.
  • To sum up, there are too many assumptions in the text and questions are not answered with empowering information.

What Little Miss green didn’t like

  • Nothing – she liked the book 🙂

Suggestions for improvement.

  • Instead of the aeroplane picture Mr Green and I think it might be better to draw something like Bumba in a fleece top with a comment such as ‘it takes 25 recycled plastic bottles to make 1 fleece top’ That kind of information is something the child can relate to and might even surprise some parents. Information that has a slightly unbelievable or intriguing factor to it is memorable and is likely to be shared in the playground (which then spreads the message).
  • There could be some notes for parents or activity suggestions to do as a family to further improve knowledge of recycling such as looking around the house together to find objects like newspapers, cans and bottles to recycle. Or a suggestion to look at packaging next time you are shopping and discuss the options for recycling.
  • Little Miss Green suggests “On page 2 Bumba asks ‘what is recycling?’, instead of the greenfly saying ‘lets go and find out’ it would be nice if he said “Recycling Bumba, is not throwing things in the landfill. It’s putting things in a recycling place to be made into other things. You can put garden waste in one bin and glass, tins and newspapers in another. “
  • Additionally, Little Miss Green says “It’s best to help Mother Nature now by not throwing things into the landfill any more and recycling more things.”

The competition

  • Rubbish and Recycling by Stephanie Turnbull
  • The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story about Recycling by Alison Inches
  • Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel


At this price, ‘Bumba the panda learns to recycle’ would be ok for a stocking filler or party bag item for ‘green parents’ to dish out.

For a family who has no interest in recycling whatsoever, this wouldn’t be the book to inspire change or get the message across. The book does not help the novice or answer the questions for the child. There is not enough information for parents to become empowered and develop the interest.

Bumba, we think you are a very likeable character, but you need to go back to the classroom and learn a little more about recycling before offering to help others.


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

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