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Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Green Bath, written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic. 2013. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"Sammy watched his father connect the bath to the pipes and stepped HARD on one clawed foot. Toot! Toot! honked the Trottingham horn as they set off for the seashore. But just at that moment, Sammy heard the bath give a gurgle as if it were laughing. He thought it was scratching itself with one of its strange claw-feet. He blinked and looked again."

How sad for the world of children's literature, that there will be no new books from this grand lady from New Zealand. Her stories will be shared with future generations, but we will miss the chance to hear new voices and enjoy new adventures.

The Trottingham boys are ecstatic when their father brings home a 'sleek and scarlet' speedboat from the flea market. Sammy next door is not so enamored of his father's find...a green bathtub. But, we know from the first meeting with the tub that adventure is ahead. It has a face, wide warm eyes and feelings. As his father hooks it up, the tub seems content and almost euphoric.

So, when Sammy's mom suggests that he clean himself up before the arrival of his grandmother, readers will not surprised to find that the bathtub is quick to lead Sammy on an imaginative romp to the ocean. While they are jumping the back hedge, Grandma is making her appearance at the front door. Nothing is going to keep Sammy and his sprightly, delightful companion from their watery escapades.

Mermaids, a sea serpent and a landing on an island inhabited by a host of buccaneers conjure up great fun for all. It's made more enjoyable by the witty collaboration of text and illustration:

"The buccaneers had swords, but Sammy bewildered
them with bubbles and baffled them with soapsuds.
At last, every single buccaneer was bobbing in the waves,
and blustering."

Once you have shared and savored the language, take time to really look at Steven Kellogg's illustrations and the fun that he includes on every page. These are classic Kellogg fare and offer and funny and frenetic fantasy world that perfectly matches the lyrical text.

It makes taking a bath worth it...every time!

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