Walrus in the Bathtub: Deborah Underwood and Matt Hunt
July 31, 2018
Book: Walrus in the Bathtub
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Matt Hunt
Age Range: 4-8
Walrus in the Bathtub is an over-the-top tale about a family who moves into a new house and find a walrus living in the bathtub. This causes all sorts of "bad things", like "bathtub tidal waves" that result in "soggy suppers" (the water leaking right through the dining room ceiling), and "toothpaste troubles" when the walrus uses it all up. The extremely loud walrus songs are a particular problem, at least for most of the family. The little sister seems to take it all in stride. But when the family gives up and decides to move out, a misunderstanding is revealed, and common ground is eventually reached.
This is just pure silliness, of course. They ask a firefighter for help and he tells them "Call us if he gets stuck in a tree." They try dressing up to somehow entice the walrus out of the tub, and of course that utterly fails. And so on. But the writing style is fun. The book is written mainly in the form of lists produced by the older brother, together with some dialog. Most of the lists are of three items, but my favorite was this one:
"Things that are louder than walrus songs:
The above is on a page where you see "AAAAHHHROOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!!!" weaving across the page, and the parents and brother trying to drown out the noise with headphones, hats, and pillows. The little sister seems to be singing along, gleeful. Matt Hunt's illustrations are colorful and cheerful, filled with details like "Walrus Weekly: Home Edition" set casually atop some boxes of clams. I especially liked the sister, with her red glasses and gap-toothed grin, and the way the brother carries a little notebook around everywhere for his lists.
A note on diversity. The dad and the brother are clearly white, with brown hair and freckled faces. The mom and the sister, though, looked a little Asian to me, with darker skin and straight back hair. It's hard to say for sure, because of the informal style of the illustrations. But I took the liberty of telling my daughter that this might be a blended family. I thought that would be cool to see represented and unremarked in the text. But I can't say for sure.
I'm not sure how well Walrus in the Bathtub is going to hold up to repeat readings, but my 8 year old thought that it was hilarious, and I enjoyed it myself. I liked the list-centered approach, and I thought that the ending was creative. I liked how the family stuck together, with the exception of the little sister, who silently formed her own option. I think Walrus in the Bathtub would make a nice library purchase - the eye-catching cover will have kids eagerly grabbing it from the shelves. Recommended and a lot of fun!
Publisher: Dial Books (@PenguinKids)
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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