7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #408: Featuring Elizabeth Zunon

h1 November 30th, 2014 by jules


Today I’m featuring the artwork of Elizabeth Zunon, pictured left, whose illustrations I’ve actually shared here previously (in this 2011 post — back when she was a debut illustrator). And I’m looking ahead a bit here; this isn’t a book out on shelves now. It will be out on shelves in February of 2015 (Millbrook Press). Written by Miranda Paul, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia tells the story of one woman who transformed her community.

The book is set in Njau, Gambia. We meet a young girl, carrying fruit in her palm-leaf basket. When the girl’s basket breaks, she picks up a plastic bag that has flown by her, and she gathers her fruits in this bag. Eventually, she learns that it’s one of many plastic bags littering the landscape of the community where she lives.

Years go by, and Isatou becomes a woman. “She barely notices the ugliness growing around her … until the ugliness finds it way to her,” the author writes. Her grandmother tells her that many goats are perishing after having eaten the plastic trash. Isatou and her friends decide to dry the bags and then cut the bags into strips. They then roll the strips into spools of plastic thread to use for the creation of purses. The women crochet with these plastic strips, and they do so away from the community — for fear they will be mocked. When they set out to sell the recycled purses (“fingers sore and blistered”), they discover that they sell well.

A closing Author’s Note from Miranda explains how she once visited Gambia and actually visited with Isatou in her home in Njau. (They are pictured right.) The book’s back matter also includes a Wolof glossary and pronunciation guide, as well as a timeline and suggested further reading.

Zunon herself grew up in the Ivory Coast in West Africa but now makes her home in Albany, New York. Her collaged, multi-media illustrations for this story are very textured and colorful, capturing well the transformation at the hands of Isatou.

See for yourself. Here are some spreads from the book. Enjoy.


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“One woman lays dalasi coins on the table. She chooses a purse and shows it to one friend. Then two. Then ten. Soon everyone wants one!”
(Click to enlarge)


“…it was.”
(Click to enlarge)


ONE PLASTIC BAG: ISATOU CEESAY AND THE RECYCLING WOMEN OF THE GAMBIA. Copyright © 2015 by Miranda Paul. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Elizabeth Zunon. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Millbrook Press, Minneapolis.

The photos of Elizabeth, Miranda, and Isatou are taken from Elizabeth’s website.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) You know how at Thanksgiving people talk about gratitude? That is something we do here weekly. So, thanks to you all for meeting here to do that with me.

2) It was really good yesterday to volunteer at Parnassus Books for Indies First Day. My friend and I, who did story time together, even hand-sold the book pictured here, Deirdre Gill’s Outside, after we read it to the children there that day. Their eyes got really big at the beautiful illustrations in this book, and there was one parent there who just had to have it.

3) When the girls are off from school for the holidays, we have more time to read aloud together.

4) This is a great conversation.

5) The Star Wars teaser. I mean, RIGHT? You saw that, right?

6) Invitations.

7) Did you see this performance below on SNL last week? I see a CD purchase in my future.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #408: Featuring Elizabeth Zunon”

  1. This book reminds me of the books about planting trees by Wangari. What a great addition to the library it will be.
    Jules, I agree, this is such a moment of Thanksgiving throughout the year. Glad you had time with daughters.
    My kicks:
    1. Reading through last week’s comments just before coming here. Truly aon vacation as I wasn’t on the computer very much.
    2. The Disney characters: Jack Skellington and Sally. They took time with Oldest Grandgirl and made her feel special.
    3. Thanksgiving with my other daughter and her family last night,
    4. Eighty degree weather and sunny skies and walking.
    5. My great nephew, four and adorable.
    6. Thanksgiving with my niece and her family, my brother (3 years younger than me), and his girlfriend.
    7. Time with my brother on Friday.
    Have a great week.

  2. So glad you saw your brother, Jone! Sounds like you had a good holiday. You and I are the lone kickers today. So far. Have a good week, and happy reading, as always.

  3. Such a great story, and I love the vibrant colors in the illustrations.

    Jules – that Uptown Funk reminds me of Prince and Morris Day and The Time. Very fun! Glad you have more time to read with the girls!

    Jone – sounds like a wonderful Thanksgiving with family! And second Thanksgiving celebrations are awesome.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Another playdate for Daisy and Otis happened. They are so cute together, all wagging tails and doggy grins – its like the dog equivalent of super happy amped up toddler bff’s.
    2) Finished the book of short stories “Wonders of the Invisible World” by Patrica McKillip and really loved it.
    3) Reading “The Position” by Meg Wolitzer.
    4) A smaller Thanksgiving this year, but absolutely lovely for its simplicity and elegance.
    5) Finished watching the final season of Breaking Bad. It did not disappoint. Amazing series, amazing acting.
    6) Watched all 3 seasons of Hung, and was it ever funny. The perfect counter-balance to the darkness of BB.
    7) Started putting the Christmas decorations up! I love the Christmas season.

    Happy holidays everyone! Have a great first week of December!

  4. Rachel: I’ve read one Meg Wolitzer book, but dang, it was good. I’ll have to look into The Position.

    Simplicity and elegance. Whew. So under-rated.

    Hung is new to me. I’ll have to look that up. I didn’t get up at 3 a.m. or ANYTHING to download the final episode of Breaking Bad. Ahem. (We had to rent it, since we don’t have cable channels, and we were THAT eager to see how it all ended.)

    Have a good week, Rachel! I wish I could see Daisy and Otis play in person.

  5. Jules- you are so right. I missed my weekly gratitude when I was away from this space. And I so wish I could be at your story times. I bet they are a blast!

    Jone- 80 and sunny!? Send that our way, please 🙂

    Rachel- a simple and elegant Thanksgiving sounds just lovely.

    Ok.. Kicks.

    1. Thanksgiving with family.
    2. Stuffing.
    3. Reading The Signature of All Things. I saw Elizabeth Gilbert speak about this book over the summer so it is extra fun to read!
    4. My youngest is learning Christmas carols on the piano. So fun!
    5. Simplified my closet and am loving having fewer decisions to make each day.
    6. Flat Rabbit- I think?
    7. Book Fair coming up at school this week. It’s my favorite week of the year!

    Have a great week everyone!

  6. Rachel, I hopt that the Otis and Daisy playdate means a possible forever home. I can’t wait to start Christmas decorations.
    Stacey, Book fairs and reading such great combos!

  7. Fly by to say I am grateful for family and friends, for health and happiness, for Imps and kicks! 🙂

  8. Stacey: I gotta read Gilbert’s book. I’m glad to hear you liked it. …. Good luck to your daughter learning her carols. I’m working on O Little Town of Bethlehem this week, one of the world’s most beautiful melodies, no matter what time of year.

    Hi, Little Willow!

  9. […] life. The illustrations are collages of colored paper, paint, and even plastic bags. Checkout the interview at Seven Impossible Things for more sneak peeks into Ms. Zunon’s […]

  10. […] Paul, Elizabeth Zunon, and others. You can also learn more at Julie Danielson’s lovely blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, which featured an extensive selection of Elizabeth Zunon’s artwork for One Plastic Bag back in […]

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