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MUDKIN by Stephen Gammell


by Stephen Gammell and illustrated by Stephen Gammell

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7613-5790-2
Publisher: Carolrhoda

During a respite from the rain, a young girl heads out to play. With toys in tow, she holds court until Mudkin, an imaginary mud-creature, appears to make her queen of his land. The boisterous critter, with its turnip head and troll-like body, speaks only in mud splotches and dresses her in mud robe and crown. Together they travel to an earthy kingdom, but rain soon depletes her carriage, castle, subjects and friend. Left with just her diadem, she returns to her toys, still queen of her own invention. Done in a chaotic ’70s ink-drawn, freestyle aesthetic, Gammell’s artwork is reminiscent of Ralph Steadman (Garibaldi's Biscuits, 2009, etc.), with its blotchy watercolors and masterful control of the legibility of the wash within messy shapes. However, the story itself is muddy and mired in a lack of clarity. In its essence, it’s a wordless tale that would have been better served by remaining so. The beauty of Gammell’s meticulously hand-lettered text and the integration of Mudkin’s “language” requires better narrative execution than it receives here. While clearly extra care was put into the production of this title, from the metallic highlights on the cover to the brilliantly illustrated mud, the end result is unfortunately drowned in detail. (Picture book. 5-8)