A heartwarming picture book about community, sustainability and how one neighbour’s rubbish is another’s treasure.

Ella’s house is full of things . . . useless things! At least that’s what she and Dad think. But when they decide to have a clean-up day, something very curious happens. Maybe what is useless to them is treasure to someone else?


Meg McKinlay is the author of over 20 books ranging from picture books and young adult fiction through to poetry for adults. Her books for Walker include How to Make a Bird illustrated by Matt Ottley, which won the CBCA Book of the Year 2021, and Duck! illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom. Raised in central Victoria, Australia, in a TV- and car-free household, Meg was a bookish kid, in love with words and excited by dictionaries. On the long and winding path to becoming a children’s writer, she has worked a variety of jobs including swim instructor, tour guide, translator and teacher. Meg is now a full-time writer and lives near the ocean in Fremantle, Western Australia, where she is always busy cooking up more books.

Karen Blair grew up in Perth, Western Australia. She loves to illustrate the joys and adventures of childhood. She lives in Fremantle with her husband and two children and works part-time as a primary-school art teacher. Her characters are often inspired by her students and her own children. Her award-winning books include Something Wonderful and Hello From Nowhere both by Raewyn Caisley, With Nan by Tania Cox, Granny Grommet and Me by Dianne Wolfer, Me and You by Deborah Kelly, Baby Beats, and Baby Animal Farm.


A wonderfully witty tale of recycling and repurposing, children will begin to look around them with more than a cursory eye, seeing the things that are no longer useful to them, but may be useful to someone else.


Far from being useless, Ella’s day is very rewarding, as she and her dad clear out all the items clogging their house that they deem useless – and discover that these very items may indeed be useful for other people. Such a fun book, with a subtly lovely message.

The whimsical yellows, pinks and purples of Blair’s watercolour illustrations contribute a loving homeliness that beautifully culminates in a delightful patchwork project. This might just be my favourite picture book of the year so far!


Perhaps this is the perfect book, the perfect time and the perfect opportunity for children to clean out their bedrooms and have a community swap-and-save sale to build awareness of the need to be less of a throwaway society, to offer their things a new life in a new home and to be an example to the grown-ups in their lives.

The Bottom Shelf

It will come as no surprise that I loved this heart-warming tale and its core tenet: one person’s trash is another’s treasure. A fun, carefree story with a timely and sustainable message.

Reading Time

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