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ZILLA SASPARILLA AND THE MUD BABY by Judith Gorog

ZILLA SASPARILLA AND THE MUD BABY

By Judith Gorog (Author) , Amanda Harvey (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-56402-295-1
Publisher: Candlewick

 Zilla loses a shoe into the clutchy goop that lines the Little Muddy River. When she tries to pull it free, she finds in her hand a mud baby, waving that shoe. Granny Vi, Zilla's neighbor, tells her to wash the child in milk, then water, and what once was mud will become human. She does, he does, a family of two is born. But Zilla is plagued by worries: Does his muddy bathwater mean he is melting (Granny Vi counsels that all children leave muddy bathwater behind), and will the river try to reclaim its creation? This is a promising scenario, especially well realized in Harvey's delicate, joy-filled pictures, but Gorog (see review, above) misses many of its opportunities. The rural setting is never developed, so readers never sense the river's menace the way Zilla does. The character of Cinnamon, first as a baby and then as a grown boy, is frustratingly blank, which makes it hard to identify with the central theme: the cares and concerns of parenting. Zilla's fears are such wild-eyed concoctions that the final scene, in which Cinnamon emerges safely from the river, has little impact. (Picture book. 6-9)