Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Let it never be said that fantastic female illustrators are a new phenomenon. Margaret Bloy Graham’s attention to detail and delightful characters back in the day resulted in this lovely tale about a filthy animal. The illustrations themselves are a perfect marriage for the story that Zion writes. The book isn’t making any intentional social commentary, but I did love the variety of places Harry got into. He is everywhere. Construction zones, a railroad, a coal shoot. It is nice to see jobs in a children’s book that aren’t all posh upper middle class desk jobs, especially when I look at other books coming out of this time period. (Harriet the Spy, Abel’s Island) Zion is wise in using a subject matter that will not date itself either, for animals are always a good place for characters and inspiration. Although I already stated, children do not necessarily learn moral lessons from picture books, but parents themselves may applaud the virtues of keeping clean.