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The Dirty Little Boy

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Overview

From the author of Goodnight Moon, this is the story of a very dirty little boy who tries to clean himself by imitating the bathing habits of animals. However, what works well for a bird, a pig, or a horse only makes a boy dirtier. In rhythmic prose accented by sly wit, this is an ideal read-aloud, illustrated with charming verve.·First published nearly 45 years ago, this classic story is now available as a picture book.

When a little boy tries to get clean the way ...

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Steven Salerno Delray Beach, Fl. 2001 Hardcover First Edition First Printing Fine in Fine jacket Hardcover

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Overview

From the author of Goodnight Moon, this is the story of a very dirty little boy who tries to clean himself by imitating the bathing habits of animals. However, what works well for a bird, a pig, or a horse only makes a boy dirtier. In rhythmic prose accented by sly wit, this is an ideal read-aloud, illustrated with charming verve.·First published nearly 45 years ago, this classic story is now available as a picture book.

When a little boy tries to get clean the way different animals do, he only gets dirtier.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This story, first published in Jack and Jill in 1939, feels dated now, despite a glossy treatment by Salerno (Chicken Chuck). The title character, sticky with jam and grit, appeals to his "big round mother" to give him a bath, but she is "so busy scrubbing white clothes" in a silver-gray washtub that she has no time to rinse him. So she tells him to "Run along, and see how the animals take their baths." The boy imitates a red bird splashing in a puddle and a yellow cat licking its paws, but each washing only leaves him dirtier; then his mother chastises him for not learning from the animals how to get clean. Brown's dialogue rings false, as when the child visits a pigpen ("Shoo, little pigs, take a bath so that this dirty little boy can learn how to get clean"). Elsewhere, the author sharply observes practical details, as when the bird shakes its feathers dry ("Whirrr") and the boy tries to currycomb himself, horse-style (the iron brush "just made white lines in the dirt on his leg"). Salerno styles the mother as a curvy giant compared to her petite blond son. The brusque, imposing woman, up to her elbows in suds, recalls the old-world model of motherhood rather than its sleek contemporary counterpart. The boy's experiment has modern relevance, but like Brown's posthumous Love Songs of the Little Bear (reviewed above) this work is not the author's best. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
First published in a 1939 issue of Jack and Jill, this humorous tale is given new life with the colorful and playful illustrations of newcomer Steven Salerno. One day a very dirty little boy asks his harried mother to give him a bath. She dismisses him with the challenge to learn how the animals take a bath. Following the example of a little bird in a puddle, a pig wallowing in mud, a cat licking its fur, and using the dusty bristle horse brushes, he returns home dirtier than ever. One look at her messy little boy softens his mother's heart and she plunks him in a warm, sudsy bath. The simple, amusing story is a showcase for the large, vibrant illustrations that are both humorous and tender. Using high gloss finish on several of the pages adds a texture and tone that is aesthetically pleasing. Small black-and-white corner sketches tell a story of their own. How delightful to have a new Margaret Wise Brown story to add to her impressive list of classics. 2001, Winslow Press, $16.95. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This story was first published in Jack and Jill in 1939 under the title "How the Animals Took a Bath." After getting jam, chocolate, and mud all over himself, a little boy asks his "big round mother" to give him a bath. She is busy washing some clothes by hand and tells him to, "Run along, and see how the animals take their baths and that way you'll learn how to get clean." After mimicking a bird diving into a puddle and then rolling in sand, he follows some pigs into a mud pool. Realizing he is really filthy now, he eyes a cat licking itself clean and copies it, but all the dirt from his hand is now on his face. He eventually gives up and returns home much dirtier than when he started out. At first mom scolds, then scoops him up into the soapy washtub and lovingly shows him how a little boy is supposed to get clean. Salerno's vibrant mixed-media art is great fun. The pigs' wallow is made to look so inviting by using alternating matte and shiny finishes that readers will be ready to jump in. The stylized characters contribute to the retro look, and the playful use of line and scale give them a larger-than-life quality. A selection that is bound to make a splash at storyhour.- Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary, Huntsville, AL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Proclaiming "I am one dirty little boy," a lad asks his busy mother for a bath-but she instead sends him off to see how the animals clean themselves. The results may not be quite what Mama had in mind. The first picture-book version of an episode last seen in print over 40 years ago, this has been freshened up with a light editorial massage, and furnished with illustrations that, like Salerno's pictures for Bill Martin's Chicken Chuck (2000) are all exaggerated action and huge, bold, energetic brushstrokes. Getting no good results from splashing in a puddle like a bird, rolling in mud like a pig, trying out a wire brush (horse), or licking his hands to wipe his face (cat), the boy returns home for a sudsy bath, and is last seen bare, dripping, gleaming, and beaming to beat the band. The easy intimacy between tiny child and "big, round"-not to say enormous-mother comes through clearly, as does that distinctly childlike voice that generally marks Brown's prose. Not since Harry the Dirty Dog (1956) has the twin adventure of getting grimy, then scrubbing it all off, been better captured. (Picture book. 4-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890817527
  • Publisher: Winslow Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Lexile: AD690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.43 (w) x 11.96 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Wise Brown
What child hasn’t been lulled to sleep -- or at least comforted -- by the gentle rhymes of Margaret Wise Brown’s classic Goodnight Moon? Brown, a former teacher, believed that very young children could be fascinated in the simple pleasures of the world around them, and created some of the most enduring and beloved children’s books of all time.

Biography

When Margaret Wise Brown began to write for young children, most picture books were written by illustrators, whose training and talents lay mainly in the visual arts. Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, was the first picture-book author to achieve recognition as a writer, and the first, according to historian Barbara Bader, "to make the writing of picture books an art."

After graduating college in 1932, Brown's first ambition was to write literature for adults; but when she entered a program for student teachers in New York, she was thrilled by the experience of working with young children, and inspired by the program's progressive leader, the education reformer Lucy Sprague Mitchell. Mitchell held that stories for very young children should be grounded in "the here and now" rather than nonsense or fantasy. For children aged two to five, she thought, real experience was magical enough without embellishments.

Few children's authors had attempted to write specifically for so young an audience, but Brown quickly proved herself gifted at the task. She was appointed editor of a new publishing firm devoted to children's books, where she cultivated promising new writers and illustrators, helped develop innovations like the board book, and became, as her biographer Leonard S. Marcus notes, "one of the central figures of a period now considered the golden age of the American picture book."

Though Brown was intensely interested in modernist writers like Gertrude Stein (whom she persuaded to write a children's book, The World Is Round), it was a medieval ballad that provided the inspiration for The Runaway Bunny (1942), illustrated by Clement Hurd. The Runaway Bunny was Brown's first departure from the here-and-now style of writing, and became one of her most popular books.

Goodnight Moon, another collaboration with Hurd, appeared in 1947. The story of a little rabbit's bedtime ritual, its rhythmic litany of familiar objects placed it somewhere between the nursery rhyme and the here-and-now story. At first it was only moderately successful, but its popularity gradually climbed, and by 2000, it was among the top 40 best-selling children's books of all time.

The postwar baby boom helped propel sales of Brown's many picture books, including Two Little Trains (1949) and The Important Book (1949). After the author died in 1952, at the age of 42, many of her unpublished manuscripts were illustrated and made into books, but Brown remains best known for Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny.

More people recognize those titles than recognize the name of their author, but Margaret Wise Brown wouldn't have minded. "It didn't seem important that anyone wrote them," she once said of the books she read as a child. "And it still doesn't seem important. I wish I didn't have ever to sign my long name on the cover of a book and I wish I could write a story that would seem absolutely true to the child who hears it and to myself." For millions of children who have settled down to hear her stories, she did just that.

Good To Know

When Goodnight Moon first appeared, the New York Public Library declined to buy it (an internal reviewer dismissed it as too sentimental). The book sold fairly well until 1953, when sales began to climb, perhaps because of word-of-mouth recommendations by parents. More than 4 million copies have now been sold. The New York Public Library finally placed its first order for the book in 1973.

If you look closely at the bookshelves illustrated in Goodnight Moon, you'll see that one of the little rabbit's books is The Runaway Bunny. One of three framed pictures on the walls shows a scene from the same book.

Brown's death was a stunning and sad surprise. The author had had an emergency appendectomy in France while on a book tour, which was successful; but when she did a can-can kick days later to demonstrate her good health to her doctor, it caused a fatal embolism.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Golden MacDonald, Juniper Sage, Timothy Hay
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 23, 1910
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, N.Y.
    1. Date of Death:
      November 13, 1952
    2. Place of Death:
      Nice, France

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2001

    Add This Book To Your Child's Collection!

    The bold, overstated, colorful characters will certainly hold your child's attention while reading this book. In fact, it was the illustrator's strokes that made me want to quickly turn each page! I would recommend reading for ages 3-6.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2001

    Fantastic illustrations!

    I purchased this book to read to three and four year olds. They were captivated by the story and loved the bright colors of the illustrations.The book was very well done and we have all enjoyed it. The children ask me to read it everyday!! Great job! I highly recommend that you purchase this book to captivate the imagionation of all young children. Florida Mom

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