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Dirty Gert
     

Dirty Gert

by Tedd Arnold
 

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Gert loves dirt. She rolls in it, digs in it, even tastes it. Then one day while making mud pies in the rain, Gert becomes reorganized: she grows branches, leaves and roots. Gert is delighted . . . until camera crews televise her, botanists analyze her, and Hollywood tries to immortalize her. The child is traumatized! But Mom and Dad know what to do to protect

Overview

Gert loves dirt. She rolls in it, digs in it, even tastes it. Then one day while making mud pies in the rain, Gert becomes reorganized: she grows branches, leaves and roots. Gert is delighted . . . until camera crews televise her, botanists analyze her, and Hollywood tries to immortalize her. The child is traumatized! But Mom and Dad know what to do to protect their offbeat plant-child. They shoo away the intruders. Told in rhythm and rhyme and illustrated with Tedd Arnold's offbeat yet endearing characters, this story is a humorous testament to individuality and unconditional love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a comically offbeat story about acceptance from Arnold (the Fly Guy books), a small girl hungers for one thing alone: “Little Gert loved eating dirt./ The worms all idolized her.... Way back when Gert was just a squirt,/ The earth would tantalize her.” As is the case with too much of anything, there are consequences to Gert’s soil-based diet. After getting soaked in a rainstorm, Gert takes root in her yard and sprouts leaves from her already unruly hair, creating a neighborhood ruckus and media frenzy. Arnold’s bug-eyed characters and squiggly textures are just right for a story about a girl who could give Charles Schulz’s Pig-Pen a run for his money. Readers will enjoy searching the pages for funny asides from a Greek chorus of earthworms (“She is amazing,” say two in unison, sensing a kindred spirit). Perhaps the best parts of the story are Arnold’s verse—which delivers quite the vocabulary lesson as he rhymes “soil internalizer” with “appetizer,” “immortalize her,” and other unexpected phrases—and the reaction of Gert’s parents, who gently nurture their daughter the way one would a plant. Literally. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
PreS-K—Gert loves playing in dirt: digging holes, making mud pies, even eating it. Her parents indulge her earth-loving ways, leaving their daughter to spend most of her time with the chatty worms. While eating mud in the rain one day, the combination of soil and water causes Gert to put down roots and develop treelike appendages. Others are not so enthusiastic about her changes: her brother covers her with a trash can; the neighbors think she needs to be cleaned; and then the lawyers, news reporters, and Hollywood crews show up to capitalize on Gert's strange transformation. "The lawyers called. They were appalled!/No one had legalized her." The little girl-tree begins to wilt under all of the attention, so, in an anticlimactic ending, her parents bring Gert in to the safety of the house for a meal: dirt, of course. Arnold's cartoonlike big-eyed, big-headed characters give the story his signature touch of humor and are the book's strength. Gert's wild nature is evident in her three askew ponytails and the smudges of dirt that cover her face in nearly every illustration. The story is set almost completely in the backyard, but Gert is still seen from a variety of perspectives, including as a giant from a worm's-eye view. The rhyming text introduces great vocabulary words, like "photosynthesize" and "botanist," but readers never actually hear from Gert or learn of her thoughts about her transformation, which limits the depth of the story.—Marian McLeod, Darien Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
A sweet little ragamuffin, by nature and nurture, is drawn to dirt. Gert likes dirt. Dirt is, elementarily, her thing. Gert likes dirt to the point of geophagy, or as Arnold tenderly puts it, she is a "soil internalizer." Nothing wrong with that. Cultures have been scarfing dirt since the dawn. Lots of minerals. Worms idolize Gert, of course. As she is just a toddler, we understand that dirt is in her nature. As for nurture: "Mom and Dad did not get mad. / They simply supervised her." The text arrives in somewhat furtive couplets, spinning out rhymes to "-izer" with effortless abandon. It's as delightful as Arnold's bold, comical artwork, which is full of brimming, grimy presence. Then comes the rain, and Gert puts down roots; "Out came the sun. Oh, wow! What FUN! / It photosynthesized her!" She sprouts leaves, too. The local news arrives to see what Gert can do for them, and so do lawyers and botanists and Hollywood. Gert begins to wilt under all the attention. Enter her parents to shoo away all the pests and make sure Gert gets the loam she needs, there at the dinner table, her feet nestled in a flower pot. A wonderful sense of protectiveness and appreciation pervades this story, speaking directly to the marvels that life has in store. Vegans, locavores, farm-to-table enthusiasts, take note--Gert is as organic as they come and a genuine delectation, worms and all. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823430543
Publisher:
Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
01/14/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
711,430
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Tedd's first book, No Jumping on the Bed!, became an IRA-CBC Children's Choice book, Green Wilma (a PBS Storytime featured title) and Parts (Parents Magazine 50 All-time Best Children's Books). He is also a two-time winner of the ALA's Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor for Hi! Fly Guy and more recently, I Spy Fly Guy.

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