- The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Gwen Millward
- Reading level: Ages 4-8
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (October 13, 2009)
- ISBN-13: 978-0375861765
Back-of-the-book blurb: Do you believe in Bog Babies?
If you don’t, you will!
When two small sisters go fishing in a 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 take him home with them and keep him a secret.
But the Bog Baby is a wild thing, and when he gets sick, the girls turn to their mother for help. She teaches them the greatest lesson of all: sometimes if you really love something, you have to let it go.
She is Too Fond of Books‘ review: Two young sisters sneak off to Bluebell Wood to fish for newts and are surprised by “something better” – a Bog Baby! They bring the frog-sized creature home to care for him, giving him shelter in a bucket filled with pretty shells, and feeding him cake crumbs. After a while, the Bog Baby turns ill, he no longer plays and his wings droop. The girls finally confide in their mother, who helps them return the Bog Baby to his true home in the magic pond. She smiles as she remembers her own childhood adventures with Bog Babies.
The last page of the book tells a little more about Bog Babies. They are “extremely rare” and “little is known about them.” Readers who find a Bog Baby are encouraged to send the publisher a sketch and notes about the creature. This open-ended invitation really gets the imagination flowing, as children are encouraged to believe and imagine the possibilities.
Gwen Millward’s pen-and-ink illustrations are bright and detailed. Dozens of colors in Bluebell Wood highlight the enchanted trees and carpets of flowers. The reader can easily discern the emotion on the children’s faces, and the expressions of joy, sadness, and fear on the Bog Baby.
I had to warm up to the creature himself – round, blue, boggly-eyed, spiky-tailed, and mouse-eared. That’s the power of believing – seeing the Bog Baby through my children’s eyes won me over! The evening we first read The Bog Baby, my 5-year-old climbed out of the tub and claimed that he had found a “tub baby,” which is “like a Bog Baby, but yellow like the walls, so you might not be able to see him, Mom.”
I loved the lessons in The Bog Baby – from “tell the truth” and “ask for help” to “respect wildlife” and “believe in the possibilities.” I’m hoping we can put all these lessons to use. I’ll plan to re-read The Bog Baby the next time I’m approached with a caterpillar or hermit crab and cries of “can we keep him?!?”