The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis

bog-babyCindy: I don’t know if I am up to the challenge of describing this delightful book. The Bog Baby (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 2009) has curled itself around my heart like the fiddle head ferns that line the squelchy edge of the magic pond in these pages. When two sisters lie to their mother and sneak away to the pond to try to catch a newt they get something much better, a Bog Baby! He is small and blue with boggly eyes and he floats on the water and sucks his toes. He is too cute not to take home. It’s fun at first, but Bog Babies are not meant to eat cake and be hauled to school for show and tell in margarine tubs. You know the drill, if you love something set it free…but the very subtle lesson I loved most in this book comes from the mother’s reaction to the girls’ deceit. Instead of screaming and punishing, she fondly remembers her own time of finding a Bog Baby, and the lesson learned is that maybe children can be honest with their parents when they find themselves in over their heads. At least that’s what I take from it, but then again, I never lied to MY mother. ūüėČ

Gwen Millward’s illustrations perfectly complement the story…the Bog Baby is adorable and the tiny details in the illustrations give plenty to pour over again and again. I live on a bayou and I’m hoping to find my own Bog Baby next Spring!

Lynn: I have two sons and two grandsons and so far nobody has caught a Bog Baby, but all sorts of other critters have been brought home. We have a 24 hour keep-and-release rule in our house. After one day, the captive has to go back to where it was caught. My grandsons loved this book and I think it helped them to understand why that rule is important. The last page of the book is labeled Notes About your Bog Baby – When You Find Your Very Own Bog Baby You Can Write About It Here. A list of fun questions asks about his favorite food and how many toes he has. Our focus group reached this last page and were suddenly not sure that Bog Babies were a fantasy. If they bring one home, we’ll post it here!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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