The Great Stink

How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London’s Poop Pollution Problem

Something is in the air.

It’s the summer of 1858 and London’s River Thames STINKS. What is creating this revolting smell? The answer is gross: the river is full of poop. But the smell isn’t the worst problem. Every few years, cholera breaks out, and thousands of people die. Could there be a connection between the foul water and the deadly disease?

One engineer dreams of making London a cleaner, healthier place. His name is Joseph Bazalgette. His grand plan to create a new sewer system to clean the river is an engineering marvel. And his sewers will save lives. Nothing stinky about that.

With tips for how to prevent pollution today, this fascinating look at science, history, and what one person can do to create change will impress and astound readers who want to help make their planet a cleaner, happier place to live.

US Release Date: August 31, 2021
UK Release Date: October 28, 2021
ISBN-13: 978-1534449299
Ages 5 to 10

Awards & Accolades

  • 2022 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, Association for Library Services to Children
  • 2022 Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction Text for Young Readers, SCBWI
  • 2022 Cook Prize Honor Book, Bank Street College of Education
  • 2022 Notable Book, American Library Association
  • 2022 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Children’s Book Council
  • 2022 Texas Topaz Nonfiction Gem, Texas Library Association
  • 2022 Best STEM Books K-12, National Science Teaching Association
  • 2021 Best Informational Books for Younger Readers, Chicago Public Library
  • Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection


For Teachers & Parents


For Teachers & Parents


“Colleen Paeff’s debut is quite pleasant, despite the fact that she’s writing about something best described as noxious…Together author and illustrator make a revolting topic utterly enticing.”

Shelf Awareness, STARRED review

“This informative exploration of London’s sanitation history will delight nonfiction fans interested in history, ecology, biography, and more…Far from stinky.”

Kirkus, STARRED review

“Paeff celebrates [Bazalgette’s] engineering feat with a lively but orderly overview of the history of sanitation misinformation…and Carpenter has a field day illustrating a comical confrontation between Londoners and royalty and their offensive river.”

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

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