Graney and Massari have produced a quaint story about the perils of materialism and looking to Christ for one’s souse of joy and fulfillment.
The story follows the Smiths, a prototypical American family intrenched in materialism, who find their way to Kenya presumably on a mission trip. While in Africa, the Smiths encounter a family whose more humble lifestyle, yet strong faith, inspires the Smiths to change their perspective regarding true fulfillment. Through their encounter with the Kenyan family, the Smiths shift their prioritizes toward materialism, giving to others, and being a conduit for God’s blessing for others.
The art in this work is fantastic and engaging for a child’s eyes, using rich earth tones to illustrate the Kenyan landscape. In works geared toward children, art serves to highlight the text – an engine to visually drive the written word. Not only did Massari’s art accomplish this, but her work is clearly the best part of the book, as well as its primary selling point.
The story, as a concept, is strong; however, the wording and writing style of the author is modest. The wording of the story does not flow particularly well as a children’s story should. The book often reads choppy. You don’t seem to get into a “flow,” or cadence, while reading this book that you normally do when you read a work for children. Graney, at times, uses a words which are not a demographic match for the audience of the book.
As having read this with my own children, who neatly fall into the book’s intended age demographic of five and seven-years-old, I can say it’s a good little read before bedtime (and to spark discussion using the helps in the back of the book); however, The Marvelous Mud House probably isn’t going to be a repeat go-to when the kids are requesting a story. Overall, the message is good and makes the point, while the art seems to shoulder the majority of the flow and storytelling.
* I received a copy of this work for an honest review.