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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Living Green and the Smoke, written by Florian Bushy and illustrated by Ritwij Sasmal, is a children's book and “a story about air pollution, global warming, and teamwork”. The book begins with Earth in its infancy, a planet where plants, flowers, and trees are absolutely lush with beauty, and where they are all sentient, walking and talking to one another. A while later when a tree named Mr. Florian and a flower named Mrs. Florence meet, they are confused by pollutants of smoke and dirt, making everything difficult to see. They enlist help from other plants and trees that can feel the heat to find its source. A fire burning coal is the culprit, the cave is promptly sealed through teamwork, and Earth is once more restored to its unpolluted glory.
Living Green and the Smoke provides some good alternative context to the modern catastrophe of Earth-destroying coal burning by placing it in the past and instead describing its volatility even in an organic setting. The primary difference is that one is an accident that can be resolved with teamwork, whereas the other is created intentionally and there is no teamwork, just “them versus us”. The way that author Florian Bushy frames this makes the message relatable and understandable. The true star of this book is the illustrations, which artist Ritwij Sasmal delivers with exceptional quality and a bold primary palette. There is one scene in particular where Mr. Florian is looking into a cave of fiery, burning coal and it is almost palpable. Such an excellent and vivid depiction. Recommended.