cover image The Green Bath

The Green Bath

Margaret Mahy, illus. by Steven Kellogg. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-20667-9

The boys who live next door to Sammy are thrilled when their father finds a racy red speedboat at the flea market. Sammy, however, is puzzled by his own father’s purchase: a clunky, green bathtub. Kellogg’s reliably ebullient illustrations let readers know that this is no ordinary tub: for one, it has an expressive, wide-eyed face, and Sammy hears the tub “give a gurgle as if it were laughing.” After the tub jumps to life and carries Sammy to the seashore during his bath, the late Mahy’s boundless whimsy and Kellogg’s freewheeling sense of play combine in a rowdy swashbuckling adventure. Sammy sails out to sea in the tub and, with the help of a friendly sea serpent, engages in “a wonderful bath-and-buccaneer battle” with pirates. “The buccaneers had swords, but Sammy bewildered them with bubbles and baffled them with soapsuds,” writes Mahy. Like this acclaimed duo’s last collaboration, The Rattlebang Picnic (1994), this story is distinguished by a frenetic energy, old-fashioned charm, and rapid plot zigzags. Ages 4–8. (July)