A young girl heads outside after it stops raining to play, pretending to be a queen. Suddenly, some mud turns into Mudkin, a jolly muddy creature, who asks the girl to be his queen. Mudkin speaks in muddy phrases, splotches instead of letters, but happily the girl interprets for us. Mudkin creates a robe and crown from mud for the new queen. He also makes a carriage that carries the queen to the muddy castle on the hill. From the parapet, she sees the large number of mudkins that she will be reigning over and pledges to rule forever. Then the rain begins again and the mud dreams are washed away.
Gammell uses his signature style here to great effect with the swirls of color as shadow and the flying sprays of mud that follow every gesture. Mudkin is a very friendly creature of warm brown, who smiles and drips. Gammell has created a brown that celebrates the colors within it, turning to yellows, reds and oranges too.
The book has very few words, most of them in the conversations between the girl and Mudkin. Mudkin speaks a marvelous way, in smudges that almost are letters, but not quite. It brings the pleasure of imagination and play into the text as well as the illustrations.
A book sure to encourage children to head out in the rain, play in the mud, imagine, dream, and come back in resembling Mudkin!
Reviewed from digital copy received from Carolrhoda Books via NetGalley.
Also reviewed by There’s a Book.
You can also check out the Making of Mudkin video to see watercolor magic: