Welcome to another MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY and the first stop on the GARBAGE ISLAND BLOG TOUR! You’ll find more about this title in the coming weeks at these other blogs:

GARBAGE ISLAND cover.jpgTue 10/2             Miss Marple’s Musings

Wed 10/3           Inkygirl

Thu 10/4             Storymamas

Fri 10/5               Teen Librarian Toolbox

Mon 10/8           Librarian in Cute Shoes

Tue 10/9             KidLit Frenzy

Wed 10/10     Middle Grade Book Village

Thu 10/11          Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

Fri 10/12             Middle Grade Minded

Sat 10/13            Unleashing Readers

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large area of mostly plastic floating in the north stretches of the Pacific Ocean. There has been much written about it since its discovery in the mid 1980s. If you want to learn more this Wikipedia article is very thorough.

Author Fred Koehler goes a different route and uses the garbage patch as a setting for a fun and enlightening story. I don’t read many books where all the characters are talking animals, but what I like here is that you can see human type personality traits in all of the animals.

Our two main characters include Mayor Popli on the left. He’s the mouse mayor of this island of garbage. On the right is Archibald Shrew, the exact opposite in personality. A gifted inventor, Archie tends to act before thinks. It gets him and the whole island in trouble more than once.

The story moves along at a nice pace and the mostly short chapters (39 in all) will encourage emerging readers to give this one a try. It has read aloud potential both as a bedtime story or in those five minutes before the bell rings. There’s plenty of adventure and conflict along with many more animals, both above and below the water. This is the first book in THE NEARLY ALWAYS PERILOUS ADVENTURES OF ARCHIBALD SHREW series and the ending hints at where the next is headed.

“Snakespit!” We’ll have to wait for that one.

PUBLICATION DATE: October 9, 2018   PAGE COUNT: 288


In this gripping adventure, a mouse and a shrew, lost at sea, try to navigate to their home in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Braving multiple dangers, they discover they have more in common than they ever could have imagined.

Mr. Popli, the mouse Mayor of Garbage Island, is always at odds with Archibald Shrew, a brilliant but reckless inventor. When Garbage Island splits apart, they’re trapped together in Mr. Popli’s houseboat, desperate to find their way back home. At first, they only argue, but when they face a perilous thunderstorm and a series of predators, they begin to work together and recognize—in themselves and in each other—strengths they didn’t know they had. Nonstop action and deep emotion intertwine in this tale of opposites who discover that with bravery, creativity, and friendship, they can triumph over adversity. The story is further brought to life by original black-and-white illustrations by the author.


  1. I never expected the change in Archie, both in his new position on the island and losing something we often take for granted.
  2. The author’s black and white full page illustrations are scattered among the pages. They make a nice visual companion to the action in the story.
  3. What these animals do with trash is quite wonderful, led by the plastic milk jug retrofitted to be the mayor’s boat. He calls it Abigail.
  4. Family, working together, and seeing the good in others takes center stage.
  5. The third person narration is a page turner with new surprises in every chapter.


Fred Koehler is an artist and storyteller whose real-life misadventures include sunken boats, covert border crossings, and fighting off robbers in the dead of night. Whether frfred_koehler_M.jpgee diving in the Gulf of Mexico or backpacking across Africa, Fred’s sense of adventure and awe of nature overflow into his characters’ stories.

Between book projects, Fred also runs a highly-sought after design studio, helping brands across the US tell their own stories.

Fred is passionate about encouraging young artists, promoting social justice, and conserving our environment. He lives in Florida with his wife, kids, and a rescue dog named Cheerio Mutt-Face McChubbybutt.

For more about Fred and his books click here to reach his author website.


I was given a copy of the book for my honest review.

Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to GARBAGE ISLAND

  1. I don’t usually read books with animals as the main characters either. Glad you liked this.

  2. I enjoy some books with animals as main characters. This is an important subject and it would seem that it is the perfect way to address what humans are doing to the ocean with plastics. Thought this might be nonfiction, but it sounds like an adventure.

  3. Fred Koehler says:

    Hi Greg! Thanks for this great post on Garbage Island. In response to your thoughts on Archie’s big change, it was a surprise for me as well! When I first started the story, I thought he’d be Mr. Popli’s goofy sidekick throughout the whole thing. But the more time I spent with him, the more I realized he had the potential to be a hero!

  4. I’m not usually big on books with animal characters, but this one sounds like it might just capture my interest. Thanks for telling me about it.

  5. cleemckenzie says:

    I hope the story brings some more attention to that miserable slurry that’s out there in the ocean. If it takes animal protagonists to help find a way to resolve this mess, I’m all for them.

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