New book helps kids begin to understand temptation, sin and repentance

Part 1 of an interview with Marty Machowski,
Author of Don’t Blame the Mud

At some point in every child’s life, they will discover what guilt feels like after doing something they knew they weren’t supposed to do. That is a positive thing—then they can begin to understand temptation, sin and repentance. However, those can be big concepts for young children to comprehend. Don’t Blame the Mud (New Growth Press), the new release written by best-selling author Marty Machowski, helps parents and children talk together about God’s plan for redemption.

For young readers and their families, Don’t Blame the Mud paints a vivid and accurate picture of sin and God’s plan of redemption. This picture book, illustrated by Craig MacIntosh, teaches children how to recognize the lure of temptation and the truth that bad choices lead to bad consequences.

Q: Where did the idea for Don’t Blame the Mud come from?

I was out at a local bookstore and saw a secular children’s picture book about how to deal with a problem. The book was cute, but I immediately wished it gave a gospel answer. I thought about how many children have no idea how temptation and sin are at work to lead us down the wrong path which, is our biggest problem.

When I got home, I jotted down a few thoughts that ultimately became the book, Don’t Blame the Mud.

Q: What is the deeper message of the story?

The Bible talks about our need to be cleansed from sin. Mud represents both the temptation to sin and the resulting bad consequences of our sin. My hope is that kids will relate to the Mud character in my book and better recognize temptation and sin in their own lives. Parents can even bring a humorous warning when they see their kids struggling with temptation by saying, “Watch out for the mud,” or warn them, “Don’t blame the Mud,” when asking them to explain why they sinned.

The answer to the mud, of course, is the gospel. The Bible uses the metaphor of us needing to be cleansed from our sin. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, and when Peter objected, Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part of me.” It wasn’t that Peter needed his feet cleaned—though that was the immediate context. Peter needed his heart cleaned, and only the blood of Jesus on the cross for Peter’s sin could wash his sin away.

Q: How is the story of Don’t Blame the Mud connected to the gospel message of the Bible?

The Bible uses dirt as one depiction of sin and cleansing as a picture of the saving work of the cross. For instance, in Ephesians 5, Paul exhorts husbands to wash their wives with the water of the Word to be able to present them without stain as Christ is doing for the church. When we are faithful to confess our sins, John tells us God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all sin.

Q: Did you model your characters after real people? If so, who is Max?

Real-life experiences shape what I write. I modeled Max after my own life growing up. I walked to school and loved to explore. When other kids were hanging out at the pool, I was out catching insects and frogs and exploring the outdoors on one of my little adventures. When I wrote the story, I simply asked the question, “What would have tempted me to take a chance on getting my school clothes dirty?”

As for the dad in the story, well, that’s me again. My wife, Lois, and I have six children and have heard every excuse in the book. We’ve also had to help our children understand the workings of sin in the bad choices they’ve made.

In fewer than thirty pages, Max is tempted, sins, is confronted, repents and becomes a Christian. These things can take years in real life.

Learn more at He can also be found on Twitter (@MartyMachowski).