Tonight’s book – “Harry the Dirty Dog” by Gene Zion – has been a hit with both of our girls; it never seems to get old. The story and illustrations make it easy to engage young listeners as you follow Harry on his escapades: “can you find Harry playing in this picture?”, “what on earth is Harry doing now?”, “what do you think these people are saying to themselves as they watch such a dirty dog pass by?”, “how do you think Harry feels as he walks by the restaurant with the ‘No Dogs’ sign?”. I also think Harry’s plight – having fun getting dirty and not wanting to take a bath – resonates with young listeners.
From our Favorites page:
Originally published in 1956, Harry the Dirty Dog is about the adventures of a family dog who hides the scrubbing brush and then runs away in order to avoid being given a bath. On his adventure, Harry takes part in a series of increasingly dirty activities, and eventually gets so dirty that he turns from a white dog with black spots into a black dog with white spots. Tired and hungry, Harry decides to return home – but he is so dirty his family doesn’t recognize him! Harry tries all of his old tricks – flip-flopping, flop-flipping, rolling over, playing dead – but his family still doesn’t realize it’s their lost dog Harry. In the end, it’s a brand new “trick” that saves the day for Harry. Dejected and seemingly resigned to his fate, Harry has an epiphany, digs up the scrubbing brush from its hiding place, and asks for a bath! I guess old dogs can learn new tricks.
Aided by the magic of a soapy bath (“It’s Harry! It’s Harry! It’s Harry!”) our canine hero is back home with the family who loves him. However, we’re not sure what lesson Harry has learned as he snuggles in to his bed and dreams of how much fun he had getting dirty. We have enjoyed discussing the ending with our kids, and you may with your kids as well: “why do YOU think the scrubbing brush was hidden under his bed?”