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The Bog Baby


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About the Author

Jeanne wrote her first book when she was five years old and hasn't stopped writing since. She has now written over eighty titles, including picture books, novels and television scripts. She has also won numerous awards, including the Children's Book Award, the Sheffield Children's Book Award and the Silver Smarties Prize. Her teen novel, Naked Without a Hat, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Award in 2004. She often takes inspiration from dreams and interesting conversations with strangers. Gwen Millward studied illustration in Edinburgh and now spends all of her time painting and writing stories for children about her favourite subject, beasts. Her first book for Puffin, Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood, published in April 2007.


PreS-Gr 3-The narrator, now a mother herself, tells about an event in her childhood. She and her sister break a rule and get caught in a lie. It starts when they go fishing alone in the springtime bog and catch a bog baby. They want to share their love for their new pet with their mother, but they just can't tell her where they've been. Like budding cryptozoologists, they describe each part of the little round creature with wings "no bigger than daisy petals," and create for it a habitat, a bucket filled with shells, gravel, and water. The glorious illustrations reveal a lush dreamscape of a backyard flush with tendrils, bluebells, Queen Anne's lace, birch trees, cherry trees, dragonflies, ladybugs, and more, all delicately and minutely drawn, and painted in watercolors. The child-voiced, economical narrative transports readers into the squelches and squeaks of tromping through the mud and spring plants, and straight into heartbreak when the beloved bog baby gets sick and hides under shells. Luckily readers can venture vicariously into the twilight bog when the sisters return their pet to its natural environment, and again when the narrator's child, the next generation, joyfully discovers that their sacrifice resulted in the proliferation of this dubious species.-Sara Paulson-Yarovoy, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Bog Babies have round blue bellies and little wings "no bigger than daisy petals." The narrator, seen as a girl in a red jumper and pigtails, recounts finding one with her sister on a surreptitious visit to Bluebell Wood, "long ago, when we were little." Her confiding, reminiscent tone is one of this irresistible book's chief charms: "We said we were going to Annie's house to play," she admits, "but we didn't." After a brief period of bliss ("We sneaked him into school in a margarine tub"), the Bog Baby falls ill, and the girls' mother, who has clearly caught a Bog Baby or two in her day ("When she saw who was in the bucket, she smiled and her eyes went misty"), helps the girls bring him back to the pond where he belongs. Willis (Mammoth Pie) supplies numerous winsome details ("We fed him cake crumbs"), ever-fresh in the narrator's mind, and Millward's (Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood) dreamy, doodly pen and ink spreads are similarly fragrant with nostalgia for childhood expeditions and the sheer magic of the outdoors. Ages 3-7. (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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