CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 8. . . .October 26, 2012
Jule Ann wants to be outdoors, but every time she goes out to play, a mud puddle mysteriously jumps on her head. The mud puddle finds her when she is sitting under an apple tree, and even when she is sitting in her sandbox. When she puts on her yellow raincoat, nothing happens, but as soon as she takes the raincoat off, the mud puddle jumps on her head yet again. On each occasion, Jule Ann’s mother picks her up, takes off all her clothes, and washes her in a tub of water until she is “red all over”. Eventually, Jule Ann throws two bars of “smelly yellow soap” directly at the middle of the mud puddle who escapes over the fence never to be seen again!!
Mud Puddle is highly imaginative, entertaining, and humorous. Most importantly, young readers bear witness to Jule Ann’s bravery. After having been ambushed by the mud puddle on several occasions, she is fearful to the point where she won’t go outside. However, Jule Ann not only exhibits strength in the face of adversity by facing the mud puddle, but she is able to show resourcefulness and initiative in problem solving – even when the solution isn’t the most conventional!
There are marked differences between both the illustrations and text of the 1995 revised edition of The Mud Puddle and the current 2012 edition. In the more recent edition, Dušan Petricic seems to place more of a focus on objects or individuals that stand out because they are set against a white backdrop. The illustrations do not take up most of the space on the page which is extremely effective approach as the reader can concentrate on what the character is doing without being distracted by the background. Conversely, the 1995 edition, as illustrated by Sami Suomalainen, is very colorful and warm, but the illustrations aren’t as clearly defined. In addition, the mud puddle is more like a monster/creature with facial features whereas, with the exception of the cover, the mud puddle in the current edition is simply a large drop of mud which jumps on Jule Ann’s head. The font is consistent in the earlier edition whereas the illustrator in the new edition uses various font sizes, and he bolds isolated text to further draw the reader’s attention. Munsch makes use of continuous repetition in the text of the 2012 edition which serves as a means to enhance memory and encourage participation.
Robert Munsch puts a smile on my face each and every time I read one of his books. The newest edition of the Mud Puddle is no exception, proving to be a perfect example of how Munsch’s stories can elicit joy from, and provide amusement to, both younger and older readers all over the globe.
Harriet Minuk is a librarian at Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.
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