Trash by Andy Mulligan

Look at the two photos:

  • What do they have in common?
  • What are the main differences?
  • What are the feelings they engender in you?

childrengroup of kids at a Cambodian rubbish dump

Look at the following booktrailer and say what elements you can single out of it.

Look at the book covers.

  • Which one do you find most appealing?
  • Which one catches your attention most? Why?

Trash_Andy_MulliganTrash by Andy Mulligan (US)Trash-front

· What kind of book is it?

· What new elements can you spot that add up to the trailer?

After reading the novel think of the bookcover you would draw if you were asked to.

What do you expect life to be like on a rubbish dump?

These children may tell you their stories, if you are interested in listening to them. What questions would you like to pose them? What do you think they are thinking of? They are looking directly into your eyes, what are those eyes telling you?

dumpsite childCambodian kidsWatch the videos and see whether your thoughts of how children live on a dumpsite were right.

Unfortunately there are lots of dumpsites in the world, places where people are turned into “recycling machines”, where their dignity is stripped off. They are there because they must survive.

The novel “Trash” is based on first-hand experience of the writer in Manila in the Philippines. Click here, watch the other videos and jot down your feelings, your thoughts.

Choose two of the pictures and do the following creative writing activities:

Picutre One: Give the child/ren a name, an identity, write who their parents are, why they are on a dumpsite, what their relationship is like. Then write a postcard to them being yourself. What image would you choose for them? What words would you write?

Picture Two: Choose your identity and write a page in your diary. Say what your are feeling like today; What is crossing your mind; What your plans for the day are; What your aims for the future are; What you are going to do to accomplish them; Who can help you fulfil your objectives.

Look at the video and say whether you are interested. We could raise some money and help these children. We can write a strong message of hope and most of all show our support. You can all make a difference.

Would you like to partake this project? Why (not)?

Many times I wonder whether you ever think of your own destiny. I ask myself: what are the merits I can really account for myself in life? What is it that I really had to work hard to achieve and I did it by myself?

The money I inherited or I will inherit from my parents? NO, obviously not. They worked for it, I didn’t.

The place I was born? NO, definitely not. That is just destiny.

What would my life be like if I had been conceived in a developing country by a family with no means? This question it is impossible to answer, but it forces me not to take things for granted and be thankful for what the destiny has had in store for me up to now.

What are your considerations? Are these just mental rumblings of mine?

Read about Michelle, the same age as yours, and take notes. What have you learnt about her life? What are the main differeces between her life and yours? Can you spot any similarities?

Look at the Trash website and listen to the interview to the author and read the Frequently Asked Questions.

Read the questions to the author. Which one do you like the most? Why?

What other question would you pose the writer?


Watch and find out by yourself:

  • How did Andy Mulligan come up with the idea of writing “Trash”?
  • What strategies did he use to write it?
  • What are the things he wants to find in fiction?

Creative writing activities

There are two written tasks I would like you to do. The first one is the diary page of a dumpsite boy or girl. On the basis of the videos we watched, what is the daily life of a scavanger? Guiding questions: Does s/he go to school? Does s/he get washed? What does s/he eat? Where does s/he get food? What does s/he find in the heaps of rubbish? What season is the most difficult and why? What does his/her house look like? How many people are there in his/her family? Who helps them out? (Is there anybody who does?) What dangers does s/he face everyday? Does s/he feel lonely? Does s/he have the time to play with his/her friends? What are the hopes for his/her future?

Then write a poem dedicated to dumpsite children. Give a title to your poem (possible suggestions: Dumpsite Boy, Dumpsite Girl, Thinking of You, Little Scavanger, This is For U, Two Worlds Apart)

This is a poem by someone called Alison I found on the web and I loved it.


We Dumpsite Boys. Trash poem.

Sickness death stupp and rubbish
mud dumps death and hunger
this is the life for the homeless children of Behala
for we are the bottom of the steaming heap of trash that is the world
we are down with the bits or plastic and poo
everyday the same
pick it up pick it up pick it up
pick up the things that one one else wants
things they throw out
but to us it is a living
we dumpsite boys of Behala
everyday the same
pick it up pick it up pick it up


I asked the students to work in groups and outline a file for all the main characters in the story. The students sent me the work and I checked it at home, teaching them how to improve their file and make it more challenging for the reader (e.g. If the writer decided to remove you from the story, how would you defend your existence as a character? Why are you important in the development of the story?)
These Padlets contain the files for each character. Which description do you like best? Why?

This is one of many different booktrailers you can find on the Net.  Do you find it effective? Why (not)? If you were asked to create a booktrailer what would it be like?  If you were asked to review the book (you are a v-logger) what would you say.  Do you like the way the girl recommends the reading of the novel?


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