Monday, February 20, 2012

MUDKIN by Stephen Gammell

Gammell, Stephen. Mudkin. Minneapolis, NM: Carolrhoda Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7613-5790-2. $16.95. Ages 5-8.

What child doesn’t love playing in the mud? Mud even  offers endless possibilities for adventure in the imagination. Mudkin is an almost wordless picturebook about a girl’s adventure one afternoon after a rainstorm. On this fantastic day, the girl meets Mudkin, a creature of earth and fantasy who makes the girl a queen, dressing her in fine mud apparel, and whisks her away to a castle where she meets her mud subjects. It’s a glorious afternoon there, but then the rain returns. The girl must return home, although she will never forget her subjects, nor ever stop being their queen. 

Mudkin is a strong reminder that you can present children with all the toys in the world, but nothing beats the imagination and nature. Gammell’s illustrations are marvelous in depicting what is going on in the girl’s head better than any words could. Mudkin looks like a blob with knobby arms and legs and an onion shaped head. The things Mudkin then creates out of the mud are incredible, including a mud crown and robe for the queen, a wonderful mud carriage, and castle. In the few words and dialogue featured in the book, the girl talks to Mudkin and her subjects. While her speech is in text,  what the mud creatures speak are lines of mud, leaving it up  to the reader to infer what they are saying. Not only is this book a story about a child’s imagination, it requires readers to use their own imagination to interpret the story. It is a clever and beautiful book.

Joyce Myers

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