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Friday, August 31, 2012

Mud Puddle, written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Dusan Petricic. Annick Press, 2012. $9.95 ages 3 and up

"As soon as she took off her coat, out from behind the doghouse there came the mud puddle. It ran across the grass and jumped right on Jule Ann's head. She got completely all over muddy."

Erin was three when this book was published, and I remember her squealing with delight (perhaps disgust...she was not the child who dreamed of an encounter with a mud puddle) as the Mud Puddle  jumped on Jule Ann and made her 'completely all over muddy'. It remained a favorite for ages, and was shared with Bret when he was born into our family of readers.

I did not realize, or remember if I did know at the time, that this was the first of Bob Munsch's oral stories to be published. It made us laugh out  loud and beg for repeated readings. I shared it in at home and in my classroom and soon needed a new copy. It's wonderful to welcome it back for another generation of readers, with the signature illustration style of Dusan Petricic.

That mud puddle has it in for Jule Ann. Whenever she goes outside, it is waiting. Ready to pounce and do its best work, the mud puddle is a constant surprise to her. Once covered in mud, she runs to her mother again and again with a repetitive complaint:

"Mommy! Mommy! A mud puddle jumped on me!"

Mom's reaction is also repetitve:

"Jule Ann's mother picked her up, took off all
her clothes, and dropped her into a tub of water.
She scrubbed Jule Ann till she was red all over.
She washed out her ears.
She washed out her eyes.
She washed out her mouth.
She even washed out her nose."

The words came back, without even looking at them. In the end, it is Jule Ann's ingenuity that stops the culprit in its tracks. Bravo!

I have great admiration for Dusan Petricic and the energy he brings to his art. It is a perfect match to the tone and telling of this story. It gives it a fresh look for young readers and will delight a new audience. Jule Ann is a calm and contented child as she ventures outdoors to enjoy the beauty of nature in her backyard. She is a gloppy, running mess following her first encounter with the demon puddle. The expressive faces of child and parent, the frenetic movements and the well-aimed bars of soap give new life to an old favorite. 

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