HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Tub People
Author: Pam Conrad
Illustrator: Richard Egielski
Publisher: HarperCollins, republished in 1995
ISBN-13: 978-0785709091 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0785709096 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0064433068 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0064433064 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Conrad, Pam. The Tub People (published in 1989 by HarperCollins). During an unseen child’s bath time, the seven members of a wooden toy family, who resemble the small, rigid figures found in children’s play sets, make a washcloth raft, ride on the floating soap, and compete in swimming races. However, the tub people have to rescue the tub child when the water pulls it down the drain before they are put safely on the shelf. Eventually a plumber retrieves him, and the Tub People are reunited in the safety of the child’s bedroom, where they mountain climb on the ridges formed by soft quilts of the warm bed, with the Tub Child positioned securely between his parents and faintly discernible smiles on their faces.
Conrad’s text maintains a childlike point of view without becoming condescending, and Egielski’s appealing illustrations avoid being either cute or cold but realistically draw on color and perspective with a good effect. Together words and pictures tell just the kind of story that a child might create as part of bath-time play in which the toys are given human characteristics and made to do things which express the child’s imagination and experiences. A few reviewers found this story too frightening and distressing for toddlers with the potential to develop in them a fear of the bathtub and its drain. I suppose that might be true for some, so parents of sensitive small children should beware, but it does have a happy ending, and most reviewers concluded as we did that it is just a story about a lost child who is found. Neither of our boys, both of whom were probably around five when we read the book, became afraid of taking a bath.