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The Bog Baby
     

The Bog Baby

5.0 2
by Jeanne Willis, Gwen Millward (Illustrator)
 

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The Bog Baby is a magical story by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward When two small sisters go fishing to the magic pond, they find something much better than a frog or a newt. They find a bog baby. Small and blue with wings like a dragon, the girls decide to make him their secret. I won't tell if you won't. But the bog baby is a wild thing, and when he becomes poorly,

Overview

The Bog Baby is a magical story by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward When two small sisters go fishing to the magic pond, they find something much better than a frog or a newt. They find a bog baby. Small and blue with wings like a dragon, the girls decide to make him their secret. I won't tell if you won't. But the bog baby is a wild thing, and when he becomes poorly, the girls decide they must tell their mum. And she tells them the greatest lesson: if you really love something, you have to let it go. 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. Other wonderful books by either of the two include: The King of Tiny Things; Guess what I found in Dragon Wood; Happy Birthday in Dragon Wood; Sing a Song of Bottoms; Bottoms Up!; Silly Cecil and Clever Cubs; The Wheels on the Bus; Delilah Darling is in the Library; There's an Ouch in my Pouch!; Who's in the Loo?; The Monster Bed; Tadpole's Promise; The Beasties

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
What is a Bog Baby? Willis and Millward are so convincing in their depiction that they have even provided a form for readers to report on their discovery when they find one. Their story begins when the narrator relates how she and her sister go secretly to where they are not allowed, to the "magic" pond to fish for newts. Instead they catch a mysterious Bog Baby, which they take home and hide; they cannot tell about him without admitting that they disobeyed. He is a delightful sort of pet to take for walks and to school, but then he sickens. When their mom finally discovers him, she is not angry. It seems that she saw a Bog Baby when she was little. She tells them that if they love their pet, they must set him free where he belongs, and they do. Our narrator reports that her daughter has seen "hundreds of Bog Babies swinging through the bluebells" down by the pond. The magic continues. Millward's gentle sketchy ink and watercolor touch brings to life the chubby, appealing blue Bog Baby on the jacket, revealing her sensitivity to the fey tale and the affection of the young girls. Vignettes, single- and double-page scenes, particularly of the Bluebell Wood and its myriad blue flowers and odd tree trunks, make an appropriate context for the low key actions. Color is used with particular effectiveness with scenes of the past set in pink clouds. The characters are depicted with a sense of both reality and charm. There is surely an environmental message here as well. White-outline Bog Babies dance across the green end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
Anyone who has ever tried to re-create a tide pool in a jar or displaced a wild thing only to watch it wither will understand the heartbreak of two sisters and their beloved Bog Baby in this whimsical British import. The disobedient duo catches a blue, boggly-eyed beastie on a forbidden newt-fishing trip, so they can't tell their mom about their fantastic discovery. The sisters build him a nice bucket world of shells, gravel, clean water and cake crumbs, and all is lovely until the Bog Baby gets sick. The desperate girls blow their secret, but find a sympathetic ear in Mom, who fondly remembers Bog Babies from when she was young. Bluebell Wood, the newt-fishing site, is a breathtakingly beautiful sea of delicately rendered bluebells in what must be one of the most inviting forests ever illustrated in children's literature. Narrated in the personable voice of one of the sisters all grown up, this happy-ending story asks readers to consider not only the importance of leaving wild things wild but the possibility of magic. (Bog Baby field note form) (Picture book. 4-7)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2009:
"[This] happy-ending story asks readers to consider not only the importance of leaving wild things but the possibility of magic."

Review, School Library Journal, October 2009:
"Glorious illustrations."

Review, The New York Times Book Review, October 11, 2009:
"[A] charmingly conceived modern fable."

Review, Publishers Weekly, October 12, 2009:
"Willis...supplies numerous winsome details...ever-fresh in the narrator's mind, and Millward's...dreamy, doodly pen and ink spreads are similarly fragrant with nostalgia for childhood expeditions and the sheer magic of the outdoors."

Review, Grandparents.com, October 22, 2009:
"[Willis's] words are paired with some of the most beautiful illustrations in recent memory — there is a two-page spread of bluebells that will take your breath away."

Starred review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December 2009:
"A sweet story with a wide-eyed belief in possibility; it's sure to get kids nosing around the woods for their own fantastical finds."

Review, Scholastic Parent & Child, December 2009:
"Gwen Millward’s whimsical watercolors add to the charm."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375961762
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 10.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Gwen Millward studied illustration in Edinburgh and now spends all her time painting and writing stories for children about her favourite subject - beasts.

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The Bog Baby 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The bog baby is a creature and it is shiny blue and with a squashy tummy and with little blue legs and arms .We like this book because it goes on a adventure .In the story the bogbaby feels sick because the girls who looked after him gave some cake crumbs to the bog babyso then they let him go.By Rebecca and Meher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Went to library with my children and read this book. The pictures were so beautiful and I fell in love with the story. I decided to buy this book for me and our children.