Ethicool Books

Simon and the Sad Salad by Teigan Margetts and Uncle Marlow’s Machine by Stuart French | Book Review

Ethicool Books

Simon and the Sad Salad by Teigan Margetts and Uncle Marlow’s Machine by Stuart French are two of the beautiful picture books included in new Aussie company Ethicool Books’s catalogue, and they’re must-haves for young readers.

Teigan Margetts’s Simon and the Sad Salad is everything that’s wonderful about Ethicool Books, emphasising important themes that are often missing from the picture book genre. When Simon’s class has a party to celebrate the end of the school year, his friends bring all kinds of food to share—from sushi, to samosas, to cupcakes! But Simon doesn’t share the privilege of his peers. His mum has recently become unemployed, and Simon often comes to school wearing tattered, sad-looking clothes. All Simon can bring to the party is one sad salad. Luckily, Simon’s friends are kind and are willing to help him by sharing their resources.

Despite the fact that approximately 15 million children—21 percent—in the United States live in poverty, it’s not a topic that appear in picture books very often. Simon and the Sad Salad, I think, addresses a very real, very important gap in the market, helping children living in poverty to feel seen and included and helping children not affected by poverty to understand and support friends who are. This is a big topic, but Simon and the Sad Salad communicates it clearly and simply, making it relatable and comprehensible.

simon and the sad salad review

Sticking with an ethical theme, Uncle Marlow’s Machine by Stuart French shares a topical environmental message in an easy-to-understand way. The story’s main character, Henry, travels out of the city to visit his Uncle Marlow, who lives on a farm and is building a wind turbine to generate electricity. Henry learns about the negative effects coal factories have on the environment and our climate, and he soon decides to follow in Uncle Marlow’s footsteps, building a wind turbine of his own and helping to save the planet.

With coal pollution causing known damage to people’s health and acting as a key player in climate change, alternative energy solutions are a big topic! Uncle Marlow’s Machine is honest and clear, its writing style attributing a sense of responsibility to the reader. The illustrations in this story make a real impact. Beautiful green fields contrast with smoky skies and dirty power plants, and this helps to demonstrate the story’s theme.

uncle marlow's machine review

Ethicool Books is a relatively new Australian publishing company that focuses on teaching young readers about world issues, like global warming, ocean waste, gender equality, and political corruption. Ethicool believes wholeheartedly in its ethos—the company donates 1% of all proceeds to environmental causes, and all of its books (and packaging materials/processes) are as eco-friendly as possible (think recycled paper and plant-based ink!). One of my favourite things about Ethicool’s stories is that each book includes a call to action at its end, a question for young readers to think about, learn from, and respond to.

Ethicool Books

Simon and the Sad Salad and Uncle Marlow’s Machine would be perfect choices for pre-school and early school-aged readers. They could make for some great school/homeschool learning activities!

You can pick up your copies of Simon and the Sad Salad and Uncle Marlow’s Machine from the Ethicool Books online store!

A big thank you to the oh-so-lovely team at Ethicool Books for providing me with these review copies of Simon and the Sad Salad and Uncle Marlow’s Machine!

Have you read Simon and the Sad Salad or Uncle Marlow’s Machine yet? If so, let me know what you thought! If not, what are your favourite picture books?

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Title: Simon and the Sad Salad

Author: Teigan Margetts

Publication Date: 2020

Publisher: Ethicool Books


Join Simon, and the superhero of the day, Asha, as they celebrate at their annual class party. Everyone brings something delicious and extravagant to the party, but not Simon. Asha heads off on a noble journey to discover why … and what she finds changes how she behaves, once and for all.

This evocative and moving book encourages empathy, understanding, and ultimately sharing and caring in children – and in all who read it.

A stark reminder of the challenges some children face at school, this story shows us what we can all do about it.

Title: Uncle Marlow’s Machine

Author: Stuart French

Publication Date: 2020

Publisher: Ethicool Books


Henry’s off on an adventure to see his wacky uncle, Uncle Marlow. Uncle Marlow’s building a special machine. But what is it?

When Henry first sees it, he thinks it’s an aeroplane, as it’s got a big propeller. But it’s even better than an aeroplane – it’s a wind turbine!

Henry learns that Uncle Marlow’s wind turbine is used to make electricity. Unfortunately, not everyone likes Uncle Marlow’s Machine … and Henry soon learns the ominous reason why. 

This much-needed book will help start critical conversations in lounge rooms everywhere about the need to take urgent action on climate change.

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