Harry the Dirty Dog -Gene Zion

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel:  0 points
Variety of characters: 1 point
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points

I have no strong feelings about this book. The only named character is Harry, so it cannot pass Bechdel. I gave it a point for diversity just because the illustrations show people in all the beautiful shades they can have, just, like goin’ about their business as if it’s no big deal. This shouldn’t be notable, but it is. Harry’s own family is white and very ‘default’- one mom, one dad, one boy, one girl. But hey, we have to start somewhere right?

The story is cute enough, I guess. Harry does not want to have a bath so he hides the scrub brush in the garden and runs away. Over the course of his adventure he gets dirty, then he misses his family and home and he returns. But oh no! they don’t recognise him because of all the dirt! (This stretched my credulity, honestly. I have had many dogs in my lifetime, several of whom were prone to getting muddy, and that has never ever led me to not recognise them. But hey. It’s a kids’ book.) Harry jumps in the bath. The family bath him (which leads me to think that maybe they were trolling him with that whole “we don’t know who you are” thing), and once all the dirt is washed off they realise it’s him and live happily ever after.

It’s mildly entertaining. I suppose if there’s a ‘message’ it’s that baths are good. I’m certainly not of the opinion that every book should have a message. There’s no real ideological base to this story I can point to. C thought it was funny. I thought it was okay. I don’t dislike it, but it probably isn’t going to become a favourite of ours.

Simple, solid kid storytelling, nothing spectacular to write home about.


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