For my friends up North.

My mother actually gets the credit for this particular find. She bought Mud, by Mary Lyn Ray, because it reminded her of her childhood in Indiana – waiting on the snow to melt so that it would actually be Spring. Growing up in Georgia, I never really experienced this phenomenon. However, these past few weeks have been a bit wet in Atlanta, and my girls have definitely spent some time in the mud. (Yes, this is also a tribute to our horrible lawn care skills that have resulted in a muddy dirty mess where some folks would have grass.)

The book is more than just a joyful read about the coming of spring. The vocabulary and language are fantastic: “[a] cold sweet smell rises in the ground, like sap in the snow” and “[t]he hills will remember their colors.” Think about what the author is really saying – can you smell the disappearance of snow? Are you smelling the emergence of mud? These are really pretty deep questions, but Mud makes them accessible to preschoolers. Wow. Definitely the sort of book where just talking about it is an engaging and meaningful activity.

Classroom teachers could really get some mileage out of the literary devices in this book, use it to teach onomatopoeia, or even have students work on poems or class stories about weather phenomena inspired by this book. Look at other places in the country – how does spring arrive in different regions of the United States? Or different parts of the world?

So many possibilities! I also need to give some credit to the illustrator. Lauren Stringer has managed to convey a child’s perspective, both in the point of view of the paintings, and in what she chooses to hone in on in each illustration. Why draw muddy footprints on a kitchen floor when you can capture the joy of mud between your toes, instead? The art in this book could convey the idea of point of view beautifully to a primary aged class. Whose perspective are we exploring? The ground’s? The child’s?

Coming up tomorrow: ways to make your own mud without destroying your yard or having a nervous breakdown. Stay tuned!