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Review: Get Real

September 25, 2010

Get Real by Mara Rockliff is subtitled What Kind of World are You Buying? for good reason.  This book shows teens how every dollar they spend impacts their community, the environment and even the world.  It stresses the fact that you make a statement with every dollar you spend and reveals the hidden costs of cheap goods.

The book is divided into sections that highlight foods (both fast foods and genetically engineered foods), clothing and the cost of sweat shops, the importance of buying locally, elements contained in electronics, and fair trade items, among others.  This book is loaded with lots great information (some of which is disturbing) and includes links to enable the reader to research topics more.  It also empowers teens by showing ways that teens can and have made a difference in their communities.

Rockliff urges thinking before you spend your money.  She includes a list of questions, such as “Is this something I need?” and “Was it made locally?” that you should ask yourself before you make that purchase.

I was really interested in reading Get Real because I care about the environment and the world and try to be a responsible citizen when I shop.  After I read the book, I felt like I don’t do anything right – I don’t think that’s Rockliff’s intention, but that’s the way the book came across to me.  For instance – it’s good to buy recycled paper products, but not if bleach has been used to whiten them.  It did make me realize that there are some things I could be doing better.   I just wonder how it will come across to teens,  its intended audience – I’m afraid they might find it a little too preachy.

Get Real was printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink, but it was printed in China.  I learned that the added transportation not only adds to the cost of the book, but also impacts the environment because of fuel burned and carbon dioxide released into the environment.  The printer has been certified by the International Council of Toys Industry, an organization that ensures that toys are produced in a safe and humane environment.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2010 5:19 am

    That’s the problem with all the ‘green’, ‘humane’, and ‘eco friendly’ arguments.They all seem to have fundamental flaws in their reasoning and the whole ethos doesn’t stand up to too much in depth analysis.

    I can’t see the point in buying something manufactured from a recycled product, if it is made in a sweat shop economy somewhere, then shipped half way round the world to be consumed.

    If we took away the need for all the cheap labour in the world, then how would some of these communities make enough of a living to survive, unless we then encourage them to burn a few forests to reclaim farmland etc. etc.

    The arguments are endless, but what seems clear to me, is that we should all strive to be better citizens, wherever we live. More considerate and caring, more helpful to those less able and not so ‘possessions’ driven. That would drive down consumption naturally, open up new markets to encourage emerging countries and generally just make us all better people.

    Good old fashioned values, without having to buy a book telling us how to do it!!

  2. September 25, 2010 5:55 am

    It sounds like a really interesting book, although I am probably doing all the wrong things as well. I think it is difficult for a book of this nature not to end up sounding preachy, so I can see where you are coming from on that point. I still do think that this book merits a look through, because it sounds like it has a ton of fascinating information in it. Great review!

  3. September 25, 2010 6:23 am

    Wow..This book is very ‘green’ except for the transportation part. We still need a lot of other factors to enhance the percentage of how eco-friendly of one product. But still, this one is a good effort to show it. =)

  4. September 25, 2010 6:53 am

    It sounds like a must-read for people, even if it’s preachy!

  5. September 25, 2010 7:10 am

    Well I was going to start with “That’s the problem with …” but I see Yvonne has already done so and very eloquently as well.

    I have to say my world view is the same. Good old fashioned values PLUS common sense is what we need to get back to.

  6. September 25, 2010 7:20 am

    I agree with being responsible and making conscious decisions when you are buying things, but I have to say (at the risk of sounding grumpy) that I hate books like this. Just take all the fun out of life, why don’t they? I don’t like to finish a book and feel like a total loser. I 100 percent agree with what Yvonne and Nicola said, how about just some common sense?

  7. September 25, 2010 9:07 am

    The concept of this book sounds great, and I definitely think we could all use a reminder about how the way we spend our money sends a pretty clear message. We could all do with a little less materialism in our lives, too. That said, I think as a teenager and as a young(er) adult, something like this would have frustrated me terribly. Honestly, as much as I might have wanted to buy the “right” things, often those right things cost a lot more money than I had to spare as a student and then a recently graduated student. I had to settle for whatever I could afford rather than what was an environmentally or ethically responsible product. It’s different for me now when I’ve got a little more income and latitude to be responsible about what I buy (not that I’m probably not still doing a bad job of it), but back when it seemed like every penny I made was going to rent and bills and tuition or when I was an even younger teen working at a crap minimum wage job whenever I wasn’t at school just to buy a cheap used car, this kind of thing just wasn’t and couldn’t be a priority for me unless it was *saving* me a few bucks instead of *costing* me an extra few bucks. Hopefully things will be different for teens today, but if they’re in any sort of situation like I was, it seems like this book, though important, will be a hard sell on a practical level.

  8. September 25, 2010 9:41 am

    How ironic that it was printed in china, yet the author stresses buying locally.

    Sounds like an interesting read. I’m paying more and more attention to what I bring into my house, so I might see if my library has this one.

  9. September 25, 2010 9:49 am

    I kind of like books like this every once in awhile. If I take away even just one thing that I can do better, then I think it’s worth reading.

  10. stacybuckeye permalink
    September 25, 2010 10:06 am

    How interesting that this book was printed in China! That does seem to defeat the message of the book. I love reading books like this, but usually when I share info with other people they don’t really think it makes any difference. Makes me crazy. Maybe I should buy some of these to pass out to them 🙂

  11. September 25, 2010 11:47 am

    Sounds good cos I do care…but sometimes I am just too lazy 😦

  12. September 25, 2010 1:14 pm

    I think I am going to add this book to my reading list. I wonder why the author of the book didn’t follow her book to the end of its production and publishing stages to make sure that it didn’t violate the rules she writes about in her own book. If what is said about the book being printed in China etc are true, this definitely takes this author out of the realm of being a reliable source or authority on green issues for me. However, I am always opened to reading about her thoughts about green issues even if she doesn’t practice what she preaches.

  13. September 25, 2010 1:59 pm

    That is odd, Kathy. I wonder why she didn’t quite practice what she preaches. Have a good weekend. 🙂

  14. September 25, 2010 2:25 pm

    this sounds like a book i would really enjoy reading. although i have a feeling that i do alot of things wrong too.

  15. September 25, 2010 4:06 pm

    This one sounds neat! I’ve always like books like this.

  16. September 25, 2010 5:56 pm

    This book sounds interesting, but I’m not sure if I could deal with it being preachy. That tends to annoy me.

  17. September 25, 2010 6:08 pm

    This sounds like a great book for teens to learn how money doesn’t grow on trees and how what they spend impacts everything they do.

  18. September 25, 2010 9:02 pm

    This book sounds really interesting. You brought up a lot of good points about the way the book is being manufactured.

  19. September 25, 2010 10:44 pm

    Until recently, I thought I did things well too, but then I realized there are so many of these “slip-ups” when I don’t really think of what I’m doing. I’m trying to be more green too, I’m so freaking worried about our climate right now!

  20. September 26, 2010 7:20 am

    This is something we have to constantly realize that our “buying” habits impacts the world on a global scheme and we have to act before the future generation lives with our destructive aftermaths.

    Buying is not only relegated to environmental but also on a higer self conscious level: impacting the lives of people in oppressed countries, human rights, etc. We have to take a stand by making an effort by “not buying” items of these nature.

    Great review and an important statement on how we are all responsible for the environment we live in.

  21. September 26, 2010 10:05 am

    I am quite certain that I do all things wrong – and while I like your caution that the book might be preachy, I think it is probably a book that I should read so that I can become more conscious of the decisions I make.

    Thanks, Kathy!

  22. September 26, 2010 1:52 pm

    Do you think the author knew his book was going to be printed in China??? This bothers me and would totally make me NOT want to read it. I’m tired of everything being exported to other factories and then imported back to us.

  23. September 26, 2010 8:21 pm

    I had a similar reaction to this book — that I was doing so much wrong and I felt terribly guilty. A few months later, I’ve realized that I have made a few changes (albeit small ones) but every little bit helps!

  24. givingreadingachance permalink
    September 27, 2010 6:11 am

    There are really too many things going through my mind after reading this one. I do hope I was able to do more, but I am doing nothing for the climate.

  25. Jennifer permalink
    September 27, 2010 3:13 pm

    Publishers print things wherever they want to print them, and authors have absolutely no say or control over that.


  26. September 27, 2010 7:45 pm

    While I like the idea of this book, I imagine it is difficult to put it into practice.

  27. October 7, 2010 7:50 pm

    I read a lot of books printed in the US. Does that mean I have been a really bad person all this time? Imagine all the resources needed to ship the books over… I’m’ for buying locally but sometimes it’s just hard finding something good locally and better off getting good quality things for slightly more dollars.

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