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Toilets, Bathtubs, Sinks, and Sewers: A History of the Bathroom

Toilets, Bathtubs, Sinks, and Sewers: A History of the Bathroom

5.0 1
by Penny Colman (Photographer)

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A well-written book that provides interesting tidbits about the history of personal cleanliness and hygiene. Among other things, readers will learn that the first flush toilet was found at the palace at Knossos on Crete; that citizens of Babylon had to build stairs down to reach their houses because the streets rose higher and higher with successive layers of garbage and sewage topped with clay; and that the early Christians considered bathing sinful. The catchy chapter titles, e.g., ``Ugh, Gross!,'' are not always indicative of the material covered; the index, however, is detailed and more than makes up for this lack of concreteness. The text is well illustrated with black-and-white photographs and reproductions on almost every page. Unfortunately, there are no maps or timeline to pinpoint the locations and periods of the various accoutrements discussed. This title might inspire further forays into the cultures mentioned, and at the very least is an entertaining addition.-Kate Hegarty Bouman, Susquehanna Valley Junior High School, Conklin, NY
Ilene Cooper
"There is no truer sign of civilization in culture than good sanitation. A good drain implies as much as a beautiful statue." So said a British archaeologist, and readers will agree after reading this intriguing account of toilets, tubs, and sanitation systems. Colman begins with speculation about how prehistoric types might have taken care of waste and then speeds through history, zig-zagging across continents, telling us who washed (the Minoans and the Romans, among others), who didn't (medieval Europeans), and the various methods for taking care of personal hygiene. Naturally, this topic will be utterly fascinating to middle-graders (and let's face it, for adults, too), and while Colman stays within the bounds of good taste, she offers plenty of anecdotes that will have kids happily yelling, "Gross!" Among them: Marco Polo's observation that the residents of Kinsai wiped themselves with a bare left hand; that people used to throw the contents of chamber pots into the streets, often splattering passersby; and that Queen Isabella of Spain considered it a source of pride that she had taken only two baths in her life. Lots of black-and-white photos supplement the text and show a remarkable variety of sanitation devices. This one will be hard to keep on the shelves. Get two copies--one for serious students of the sanitary arts, the other for captivated browsers.

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
7.25(w) x 9.33(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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