Children's Literacy and Reading Roundup: March in Review
Stop Snoring, Bernard!: Zachariah Ohora

Bubble Trouble: Margaret Mahy

Book: Bubble Trouble
Author: Margaret Mahy
Illustrator: Polly Dunbar
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Cover Margaret Mahy's Bubble Trouble has been on my radar since it won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book in 2010 (and because bubbles are fun!). Therefore, I was thrilled to receive a copy of the new board book edition from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I read it aloud to Baby Bookworm immediately, and enjoyed it immensely.

Bubble Trouble is a rhyming story about a baby who accidentally blows away in a bubble and the mismatched community of people who try to save him. It's a string of tongue twisters, but I personally found it to fall just this side of read-aloud-able (though you might want to practice before reading it at, say, a library storytime). The text in fact begs to be read aloud, using as rapid a reading pace as possible. It's a ridiculous, funny story, but also suspenseful.

I loved Mahy's mix of advanced vocabulary and nonsense words. For example:

"The baby didn't quibble. He began to smile and dribble,
for he liked the wibble-wobble of the bubble in the air."


"In a garden folly, Tybal and his jolly mother, Sybil,
sat and played a game of Scrabble, shouting shrilly as they scored.
But they both began to babble and to scrobble with the Scrabble
as the baby in the bubble bibble-bobbled by the board."

There are tons of great words and phrases, like "cavorting", "grapple", and "nefarious intentions", to go along with the bubble "wibble-wobbling" and "bibble-bobbling" overhead. It's just ... wonderful. And fun to read aloud. I want to read it over and over again.

Polly Dunbar's illustrations are perfect for the book. Scrabble tiles, quilt squares, and apple cores bounce about along the pages, echoing the jubilant movements of the baby's bubble (illustrated by a blue dashed line that runs through every page). There's a nice mix of characters, without there being any overt emphasis on diversity. And the quilt that plays a major part in the story is a gorgeous mix of blues and purples - any child would want it.

Bubble Trouble is a top-notch picture book, perfect for in-home or library read-aloud. Toddlers are sure to appreciate the humor in the story, as well as the rhyming and alliteration that bubble through the text. I haven't seen the regular picture book edition, but the medium-sized, sturdy board book is excellent for lap read-alouds (though a bit thick for chewing).

Bubble Trouble has my highest recommendation among picture books. It's not going on the shelf at all, but straight into the reading nest in the sofa. Don't miss it!

Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: April 6, 2009 (original edition)
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher (new board book edition)

© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).