When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children
Janie Reinart, Author
Morgan Taylor, Illustrator
Blue Whale Press, Fiction, Jun. 1, 2021
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes: Children, Refugee settlement, Play, Imagination, Hope, Uganda
Opening: “We come, little sister and me, with nothing…but our dreams.”
When war forces two sisters to fee their home in South Sudan with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, Big Sister strives to help Little Sister smile again at the refugee settlement in Uganda. But as quickly as Little Sister’s smile appears, it disappears: that is until water makes mud. In the end, Big Sister’s artistry and kindness brings hope to their situation.
This title is a tribute to the resourcefulness of children who have no toys, but continue to play and is dedicated to the 200,000 refugee children living at the Bidibidi settlement in Uganda.
What to love about this book:
A hopeful and heartfelt story about Big Sister helping Little Sister overcome the scarcity, poverty, starvation, and harsh reality of living in a refugee camp — through imagination. If you can imagine and dream, you can create anything. With a stick Big Sister draws a story from home in the dirt. Pebbles become a puzzle. A bag becomes a balloon. A cardboard box becomes a car. And with mud, you can make just about anything and put a smile on Little Sister’s face. Big Sister makes joy out of nothing.
Janie Reinart’s writing is lyrical as she draws readers more deeply into the difficult life of children displaced by war around the world. This is an excellent classroom discussion book for students to learn about the refugee situation. Children are resilient and resourceful, as Big Sister demonstrates. All kids need time to play and have fun.
Morgan Taylor’s bold and colorful illustrations show both the sadness of the situation and the joy found in play.
An important reason to purchase a copy of When Water Makes Mud, is that that the publisher’s profits are being donated to Unicef.
Resources: There are free downloadable resources at http://www.janiereinart.com under the Books tab. Think about all the things you could do with mud. You could make mud pies, mud balls to throw at targets, mud bricks to build a small fort, paint with mud, slide in mud, and make pretend mud cookies. Use your imagination like Big Sister does.
Janie Reinart is also the author of Love You More Than You Know, a book for military families. She has worn many hats, performing as a clown in children’s hospitals, sharing original tales in schools as a musical storyteller, and helping children find their voice as a poet in residences. But most of fall, she loves writing for children. She lives in Ohio with her husband and delights in playing with her 16 grandchildren. To learn more about Janie, visit her website.
Morgan Taylor is a Philadelphia-area native who graduated from Arcadia University’s Bachelor of Arts Program for illustration. She enjoys working mainly in oil paint and digital mediums. Her main focus is portraiture, nature, and things from everyday life. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania. You can learn more about her by visiting her website.