Dan, the kids and I recently sat around the dinner table and read “Don’t Blame the Mud: Only Jesus Makes Us Clean” by Marty Machowski. We had mixed reviews on this book. You will get a wide range of perspective on this as the six of us ranging from age 46 to nine weighed in.
The story starts with a curious and adventurous boy named Max walking home from school. He is remembering the words of his mother telling him not to get his school clothes dirty. He pushes it more and more until he is pretty well covered in mud. When he gets home, he sneaks inside and tries to cover the evidence by hiding his dirty clothes under his bed.
When Max’s mom calls him out, he feels guilty while also blames the mud for the problems.
“It’s not my fault, I thought. I was doing fine til I slipped and fell. My clothes were all clean til the mud splashed on me. It’s all the mud’s fault, that’s easy to see.”
After Max showers and cleans up the mud, he still doesn’t feel completely clean.
“After my shower, I still didn’t feel clean. Somewhere down deep inside, the mud seemed to stay.”
Max tried to convince his parents that the mud was to blame for the whole incident. His parents aren’t buying that story. His parents use this as a teaching opportunity to share the Gospel story with their son. They tell him that the mud is like sin and the only way to be completely clean of it is through salvation in Jesus.
Max is convicted that God was calling him to turn from his sin and trust in Jesus. The family prays together for Max’s salvation. Max felt an incredible change inside of him. He shared the complete story about the mud with his parents. They forgive him and his shame evaporates.
We liked how the mud was personified, it became a more alive component of the story. The illustrations were very bright and colorful. They were inviting and cheerful. My younger children, especially my son really enjoyed the story. I really appreciated the resources in the back of the book. There is additional text for parents to help in explaining the Gospel message to their children along with discussion questions. These were very helpful in spurring on conversation.
There were some aspects of the book that we didn’t like. As for aesthetics, we had mixed feelings on the font color changing throughout the book. Sometimes it was easy to see, others time difficult. My kids felt like the mud patches looked unrealistic.
In terms of story content, this was not our favorite. My children didn’t like that there was not any mention of God in the beginning of the book and then jumped to a strong message about God later on. My nine and 10 year olds had some difficulty understanding the symbolism of the mud for sin. The connection was a little deep and not thoroughly explained. However, the description of salvation felt simplistic.
Overall, we give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
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