Cover image for The dirty little boy
The dirty little boy
Brown, Margaret Wise, 1910-1952.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Delray Beach, FL : Winslow Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 31 cm
When a little boy tries to get clean the way different animals do, he only gets dirtier.
Reading Level:
AD 690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.7 0.5 88844.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.1 2 Quiz: 24734 Guided reading level: K.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Oversize
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Margaret Wise Brown was born on May 10, 1910 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York, to Robert Brown, a Vice President at American Manufacturing Company and Maud Brown, a housewife. She attended school in Lausanne, Switzerland for three years, before attending Dana Hall in Wellesley, Massachusetts for two years. In 1928, she began taking classes at Hollis College in Virginia.

In 1935, Brown began working at the Bank Street Cooperative School for student teachers. Two years later, her writing career took off with the publication of "When the Wind Blows." Over the course of fourteen years, Brown wrote over one hundred picture books for children. Some of her best known titles include Goodnight Moon, Big Red Barn and Runaway Bunny.

Margaret Wise Brown died on November 13, 1952 of an embolism following an operation in Nice, France.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.