Visual Art Kid Stuff Books

SCRAP METAL SWAN: Local Author’s Children’s Book Explores Pollution

vibrant book inspired by downtown Eau Claire sculpture

author & photos by McKenna Scherer |

FEELIN' SCRAPPY. Local author Joanne Linden's latest book, 'Scrap Metal Swan: A River Clean-Up Story', uses a playful tone and engaging mixed-media visuals to teach children about caring for their environment.
FEELIN' SCRAPPY. Local author Joanne Linden's latest book, Scrap Metal Swan: A River Clean-Up Story, uses a playful tone and engaging mixed-media visuals to teach children about caring for their environment.

Chippewa Valley author Joanne Linden published her first children’s book in eight years this spring, and its title is sure to drum up recognition among fellow locals. (Perhaps of a certain bird-like Banbury Place fixture, anyone?)

Scrap Metal Swan: A River Clean-Up Story explores the story of community members coming together to clean up a littered riverfront and create something wonderful. Beautifully illustrated by Estrellita Caracol with collage-like work employing an array of textures and layers, the book is as visually gorgeous as it is inspiring. 

“An artist and her child hammer, chisel, weld and zap the found materials into something beautiful. Young makers will find inspiration in the playful, rhyming text and mixed media illustrations, while endnotes provide recycled-art activity ideas,” the book’s description shares.

Penned thoughtfully with rhymes and vivid imagery built in, the children’s book not only tells an inspiring story of community and environmental impact, but offers activities and wrap-up thoughts at the end. The book’s publisher, Boston-based Barefoot Books, thought to create and include that portion, Linden said. 

The book took three years to complete from start to finish. The children’s book market is highly competitive, Linden said, and she was incredibly happy with how the book turned out as a finished product. 

Some of the endnote subjects include information on how rivers get dirty and why polluted water is bad, what folks can do to help, and information on “the real Guard Swan,” the statue that inspired the book. The Guard Swan was created by Eau Claire artist Stephen Bateman, inspired by the trumpeter swans he saw flying south for the winter. Made out of bottles, cans, styrofoam, pieces of metal, and more items found in the Mississippi River, he said he hopes the piece reminds folks to pay attention and care for the planet’s natural resources. (You can see it alongside Banbury Place on Galloway Street in Eau Claire.)

Linden’s own love and appreciation for the nature around her was homegrown in the Midwest: She was born in northern Minnesota and grew up in a small town of about 200 people. Linden recalls the wooded environment being a safe space for her to recharge, she says on her website. Still an environmental volunteer, Linden has called the Chippewa Valley home for years, and currently lives surrounded by woods once again with her husband and a Scottie named Auggie.

Scrap Metal Swan: A River Clean-Up Story is available for purchase in the Chippewa Valley at The Local Store (205 N Dewey St., Eau Claire) and Books-a-Million (4030 Commonwealth Ave., Eau Claire) or online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.