cover image The Tub People

The Tub People

Pam Conrad. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.89 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021341-1

The Tub People resemble nothing so much as the small, rigid figures found in children's play sets--an unlikely cast of characters and yet, improbably, this story about them succeeds. Together text and illustrations spin just the sort of story a child might orchestrate as part of bath-time play, one in which the miniature figures are invested with human emotions and made to enact dramas that intersect with the child's imagination and experiences. The Tub People like to go for rides on the washcloth raft and the floating soap. One day disaster strikes: the Tub Child is lost, washed down the drain. Eventually a plumber retrieves him and the Tub People are reunited in the safety of a child's bedroom--this time with the Tub Child positioned securely between his parents, with faintly discernible smiles on their faces. In this simple yet sophisticated picture book--Conrad's first--the author maintains a childlike point of view without becoming coy or condescending. And Egielski's illustrations--among his best work ever--avoid cuteness without appearing cold; they draw on realism, color and perspective to stunningly good effect. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)