Don't Blame the Mud: Only Jesus Makes Us Clean

by Marty Machowski

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For young readers and families, Don’t Blame the Mud paints a vivid and accurate picture of sin and God’s plan of redemption. Written by best-selling children’s author Marty Machowski, this beautifully illustrated picture book teaches children how to recognize the lure of temptation and the truth that bad choices lead to bad consequences.

One day, Max takes the muddy path along the creek home, disregarding his mother’s reminder to keep his school clothes clean. After crashing into a mud puddle, he tries to hide his mistake and discovers the stain of his sin goes deeper than the mud he can wash away. In this lovable, relatable, and heartwarming tale, Max learns his heart needs to be cleaned, and Jesus is the only one who can wash away his sin.

By clearly articulating the gospel, Don’t Blame the Mud helps parents create an environment of confession so kids can own up to their own mistakes—in the freedom of Christ—rather than place the blame elsewhere. Parents, teachers, and caretakers can help children identify with the real-life draw of temptation and the real-life consequences of sin, understanding the value of God’s salvation through the cross. Instead of teaching kids how to deal with a problem, Machowski uncovers the real issue of sin and provides a gospel answer.


Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over thirty years. He is the author of  The Gospel Story BibleLong Story ShortOld Story New, the Gospel Story Curriculum, the Prepare Him Room advent devotional and curriculum, Wise Up family devotional and curriculum, Listen Up family devotional and curriculum, Dragon Seed, and The Ology. He and his wife Lois have six children and two grandchildren, and they reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.


Craig MacIntosh was a newspaper political cartoonist and illustrator for 22 years and was the artist for the widely published cartoon strip Sally Forth. He and his wife, Linda, live in Minnesota and have two grown children.



"What a gift to a child, to be taught from a young age that there is a remedy for guilt. Marty Machowski's Don't Blame the Mud provides kids with a vivid picture of the nature of sin and gives parents the tools to talk about it in an understandable way."

Nancy Guthrie, Bible teacher; author of Praying Through the Bible for Your Kids

"Max got filthy. But not just from the forbidden mud. In this story, Marty Machowski helps every reader three and older understand what makes us most dirty and how God has provided the most wonderful way for us to become clean. You'll find it a very helpful parable of 1 John 1:9."

Jon Bloom, Cofounder of Desiring God; author of Don't Follow Your Heart and other books.

"Don't Blame the Mud contains a simple and clear presentation of sin, its consequences, and the forgiveness we find in the gospel. As a grandfather of more than a dozen grandchildren, I look forward to reading this book to them with the confidence that God can use it to open their hearts to the good news of salvation found in King Jesus."

Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"I love Marty Machowski's biblically-rich, gospel-centered resources for children. I've benefited from them as a parent and pastor and highly recommend Don't Blame the Mud. Marty offers a heartwarming tale that will resonate with every child and generate discussion about temptation, confession, and the gospel. Here is an excellent book to help children grasp the seriousness of sin and equip you to present the gospel in a faithful and compelling way."

Dr. Josh Mulvihill, Executive Director of Church and Family Ministry, Renewanation

"In a day when easy believism is rampant, it is refreshing to find a children's book that is so careful about sin, repentance, and the conversion of a child. We witness a boy caught in his sin, repenting and trusting in Christ, and we see God opening his eyes to the truth. Thank you, Marty, for yet again another helpful book!"

Deepak Reju, Pastor of biblical counseling and family ministry, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; author of On Guard and She's Got the Wrong Guy

Reviews (19)

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Biblically sound

"Unless you see that you have a problem, you don’t think you need a solution." -Marty Machowski" author of "Don't Blame the Mud"

This well-drafted picture book clearly articulates the gospel helping parents create an environment of confession so kids can own up to their own mistakes in the freedom of Christ.

Max is our lead character and he is shadowed by a lurking companion - MUD. Max is dressed in navy blue pants, a white dress shirt, and a red necktie. He carries his backpack because he has been to school and is now on the way home .

First of all, Max must be enrolled in a private school or one of the few public schools that have stringent dress codes. He is dressed in his school uniform. But whether he is in uniform or casually attired in jeans, shorts, and/or shirt, he is still an active boy that tends to get in the dirt.

The author uses a dirt or mud aspect as representative of sin that lurks all around. The dirt of sin rubs off on us making us soiled. Can't wash that type of soil off in the laundry. Max's parents explain to him the problem of sin and the solution is Christ helping him own up to his own mistakes.

The entire gospel presentation is spot on Biblically sound.

The illustrations, though, left me somewhat wondering who the book's audience is intended to be. Boys the age that Max appears to be in the story - based on size - would not traipse through the mud, splashing, getting dirty. They would get muddy, dirty, grass stained playing ball in a field, fishing, hiking, etc. So I'm thinking that Max should have been a bit younger looking child.

I felt that Max's parents approached the subject of his soiling his clothes and hiding the evidence a bit intimidating and overbearing. Surely a gentler, less formidable manner would have resulted in the same outcome.

I have reviewed several of Marty Machowski's books and found each to be exceptionally well done and Biblically sound. Don't Blame the Mud while good, and Biblically sound, just doesn't quite meet what I have come to expect from Mr. Machowski's publications.

I still recommend the book because it is Biblically sound and children do need to learn that they can't blame a situation or the mud of life for things going wrong. They need to learn that they can be cleaned of their sin by Christ. I don't see this book appealing to non-Christian audiences so distribution would be limited to Christian households, church library, and Christian schools.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.
Posted by Vera H Godley on 6th Jul 2019

Great children's story!

Don’t Blame the Mud Only Jesus Makes us Clean
Written by Marty Machowski
Illustrated by Crag MacIntosh

Category: Religion, Christian life, Children’s Books, Family
Author: Marty Machowski
Format: Hard cover, 32 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press, USA
ISBN: 9781948130967
Pub Date: May 27, 2019

This is a great children’s story about sin and the book equips parents and teachers to teach our children about sin. The story is about a boy who makes the wrong choice by taking a muddy path home from school. Along the way he falls and gets his new school uniform completely dirty. When he got home, instead of telling his mom and dad the truth, he ran through the house straight to his room leaving a trail of mud behind him and tried to hide his muddy mess under his bed. His mom and dad saw the muddy track and confronted the boy. They asked him to get cleaned up and even after he took a shower the boy still didn’t feel clean. Deep down inside he still felt the mud. When it was time to confront his parents he initially blamed the mud but his parents pointed out that there is no one else to blame but himself. Eventually he confessed his sin to his parents and finally God. His parents taught him that we are all born with sin but it’s Jesus who saves us.
What is also helpful is that there are two pages for parents and teachers that focus on helping your child understand sin and the gospel. What’s really great is the author also adds in key Bible verses to remember at the end of the book. I had my children ages 8 and 9 read each page and they were able to grasp the concept pretty quickly into the story. The story is lengthy compared to other children’s books and the wording is small which may make it challenging for younger children to follow along. The pictures are very detailed which can be distracting for a young reader who is trying to read the small font. I would recommend seeing more books with characters of different ethnicities and different type of families such as adoptive families and/or including grandparents.
I was given a free copy. All views are my own.
Posted by The Scarlet Rope on 5th Jul 2019

Don't Blame the Mud

I loved how this book beautifully explains about sin and temptation. Mud being sin and the trail being the temptation.

Max knew what he was doing was wrong, but the temptation to walk that trail was too inviting. Like most people, we choose not to obey God's word and we do things on our own, then later we try to cover up that guilt and shame, by blaming someone else or the object of our guilt. And no matter what we try to do, that guilt stays on us. Maybe from the outside we look clean, but from the inside, it's mud and it festers and begins to stink, and we don't know how to get rid of it. The only way to get clean is through Jesus Christ, He is the ONLY one that can disinfect, wipe clean all of that mud and festering stench from our mind, soul and body.

It's a whimsical book with beautiful illustrations that takes you on Max's journey to salvation. I highly recommend this read, it's very easy for young children to comprehend and at the end of this book, there is help for the parents on teaching children to understand sin and the gospel of Christ.
Posted by Leticia on 1st Jul 2019

Additional info

Weight: 0.65 LBS
Width: 8.75
Height: 8.75
Depth: 0.35
Author: Marty Machowski
ISBN-13: 978-1-948130-96-7
ISBN-13 (eBook): 978-1-948130-97-4
Publication Date: 05/27/19
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 32
Age Level: 5-8
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