Harry the Dirty Dog – by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

There are two great things about this book (make that three):

1) The story.  I love this story!

2) The illustrations.  Look at how clever Margaret Bloy Graham is, just in the cover art!

3) The fact that it is now available as a board book.  Thank.  Goodness.  Whoever thought up board books gave a serious lease on life (is that the expression?) to childrens’ books everywhere.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Harry and his life.  Harry is a dog.  He has a family.  And, like many dogs, he has a bit of personality and doesn’t always listen.  Harry features in a number of other books (Harry by the Sea, Harry and the Lady Next Door, No Roses for Harry!) but the one I remember most clearly is this one, Harry the Dirty Dog.

So, quick recap: Harry lives with family, Harry hates baths, Harry runs away to play, Harry has the time of his life, Harry comes home to rest, and is SO dirty that no one recognizes him!  Harry is puzzled and unhappy, but then gets himself a bath post-haste.  A clean Harry is recognized and welcomed to his home, and everyone lives happily ever after (for now).

This is a great and easy read for young children, and has the added bonuses of mischief (and don’t ask me how, but kids recognize and love mischief at a surprisingly young age), mix-ups, and a “bad” thing (a bath) becoming a “good” thing (recognition). The only worry is that literally minded children (and oh, how many of those there are) could ask themselves: “If I don’t take a bath, will my family stop recognizing me?”

My question is: “how can a family that “loves” their dog fail to recognize him when he’s dirty?”  But I didn’t ask that when I was a kid.  The only thing I clearly remember doing is sitting down in the library with this book and counting the white spots on “dirty Harry” and the black spots on “clean Harry”.

Rating: A

Reading Ages:  Young to be read to, and young to be read by.  I would say pre-school, probably around 3ish, to start.

My other “favourite” Harry book: No Roses for Harry!.  I’ll have to review it at some point.

Bad Pun Alert: “Dirty Harry”?  Puh-leeze.


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