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Mud Matters

Mud Matters

by Jennifer Owings Dewey, Stephen Trimble (Photographer), Stephen Trimble (Photographer), Jennifer Owings Dewey (Illustrator)
A personal account describing various uses of mud in such activities as ritual dancing, making pottery, building villages, contructing nests, playing games, and celebrating customs.


A personal account describing various uses of mud in such activities as ritual dancing, making pottery, building villages, contructing nests, playing games, and celebrating customs.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Tina Hudak
The author's childhood narrative of growing up "west of the Rio Grande" is a background setting for the importance of mud in the environment. The four chapters focus on specific aspects of this, from mud's beginnings to how it affects animals and people. Each interweaves a personal experience with facts. The sacredness of clay for a Pueblo family is introduced this way: "Jason liked to sit next to his mother's basin of red, sticky clay and dig into it with his hands. The rest of us children liked to do the same, but only Jason ever made objects worth keeping." The major portion is text, but drawings and photographs highlight the 72 pages and clarify factual information, such as the drawing of the Plaidont Skull fossil found in the mud 136 years ago. The photographs, often full-page, visually enhance images of the land and the people who inhabit this terrain. Included are a table of contents, an index with bolded numbers for direct reference and a "Glossary of Mud Words" with over 50 terms. This is an engaging book for students interested in social studies and/or science.
School Library Journal
A unique book on the author's personal experiences with mud. Dewey offers good information on quicksand, primordial ooze, adobes, etc., and describes finding a fossilized bone of a Camalops, a sort of prehistoric, humpless camel. Full-color photographs and black-and-white drawings appear throughout. However, the writing gets so bogged down in dialogue that most youngsters will have a difficult time wading through it all to get to the facts. Another problem is accessibility. Students researching the Zuni and their Mudheads, the nest-building techniques of wasps, or the Rio Grande will probably not think to look in this book. An appended list of plants and animals named after mud could prove handy, but the glossary, which includes words such as muddle and muddlehead, seems to be of marginal relevance. -- Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, Wisconsin
Scientific American
Reminisces of learning as personal and well told as these make irresistible reading.
Horn Book Magazine
Squishy mud takes on splendid dimensions as this writer of elegant natural history books shares episodes of her own childhood. Dewey confesses to a quite sensual fascination with the many types of mud encountered on her family's desert ranch. Her lively account includes rich descriptions of the mucky stuff, interesting information, and a fine introduction to an adventurous child. "I'd sit at the edge of a quicksand hole and listen to the gurgling and hissing of the mud, signs that would tell me the hole was old, ripe, and dangerous." Mud is material for childhood games and Native American rituals and pottery making. It is also building material for animals and humans. Dewey recounts how her father once gave her the job of building a mud oven-the outdoor baking chamber known as an horno in Spanish. With only a bit of advice and no physical help, the ten-year-old selected her site, made her own twenty-pound adobe bricks, and constructed the oven. The book is an outstanding choice for nonfiction readers and offers fine possibilities for reading aloud. The four beautifully constructed chapters are accom-panied by striking full-page photographs and Dewey's own charac-teristically fine pencil drawings.

Product Details

Cavendish, Marshall Corporation
Publication date:
Accelerated Reader Bks.
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.05(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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