Don’t Blame the Mud by Marty Machowski

Don’t Blame the Mud introduces children to the concept of indwelling sin in a way that they can relate to and grasp.

Don’t Blame the Mud: Only Jesus Makes Us Clean by Marty Machowski.  New Growth Press, 2019,

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 4-10, and their parents

“My troubles began one spring day as I was walking home from school.” Max is the narrator, a lively boy in a button-down shirt and tie.  Mom’s rule is very clear: Come home and change your good clothes before going out to play.  Yes, but . . . it’s a beautiful day and the fresh puddles made by the last rain are so inviting. He has enough experience to stay clean and steer clear of the mud, right?

An alert reader can guess what happens next. But he or she might wonder about the Mud, a ghostly, gleeful figure who follows Max home after the inevitable happens. What does that figure represent? Why is it still around even after Max takes a shower? What does it take to get the Mud to go away?

The catchy title is an invitation to examine the nature of sin from a child’s perspective.  Most of us tend to think better of ourselves than we should, a preference that begins even before we’re aware of it.  Churchgoing children learn to say, “Jesus died for my sins,” but it takes experience (often bitter) to learn what that really means.  Machowski, author of The Ology as well as many family devotional guides (like this one), zeroes in on sin’s subtle lures and self-deceptive powers.  The simple story and illustrations raise good discussion questions (see previous paragraph), followed by a guide for parents about helping children understand their sin and the good news of the gospel.  Don’t Blame the Mud might not be a book you read over and over, but once it’s served its purpose, it would be an excellent donation to your church library.

Cautions: None

Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 5
  • Artistic value: 4

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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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