Viking, $27.95, 416 pages
When former high school teacher and journalist Donovan Hohn heard about the loss of 28,800 bath toys at sea, he couldn’t pass up a chance to research the story. In 1992, yellow rubber ducks, frogs, turtles, and beavers fell overboard after waves buffeted a container ship traveling from China to America during an Arctic storm. Hohn’s voyage of discovery is recounted in his book, Moby-Duck. His quest leads him from research vessels trawling for plastic, to the Chinese factory where the toys were originally manufactured, and to the high Arctic to study the science of oceanic drift. Included are the author’s thoughts on marine pollution, the Chinese toy industry, and the environmental impact of Ernie’s favorite toy, the rubber ducky. Also mentioned are many personal anecdotes of Hohn’s travels, interests, and first-hand accounts of his own time at sea while searching for one of the escapees. One negative is the lack of photographs. One map is included, but readers will find themselves wishing for additional visual content. Hohn navigates the fascinating fields of oceanography, environmentalism, globalization, and maritime shipping with ease. Who knew that spilled plastic bath toys could be so interesting?
Kathryn “Squeaky-Clean” Franklin