Dirty Gert – Perfect Picture Book Friday

It’s time once again to feature a book, for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, that rocks my picture book world. To my friends who are not picture book lovers, please be patient with me. I promise I’ll post something else soon—something to do with Burger King Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (BK PTSD), an illness that both I and Mike Allegra (HeyLookAWriterFellow) suffer from. Stay tuned for that one…

As part of ReFoReMo (reading for research month), I’ve been reading more than five picture books a day. And I’m pleased to say that I’ve read some doozies. This one is just plain fun while introducing kids to new words. So here we go: it’s all about Dirty Gert!

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.29.59 PM

You know you’re in for a wild ride when three worms on the title page say:

“When is she coming out to play?”

“I don’t know.”

“Soon, I hope.”

The first page sets the scene:

“Little Gert loved eating dirt.

The worms all idolized her.”

What’s that you say? Did the author use the word “idolized”? Why yes, he did. He also uses  forms of the words internalize, tantalize, energize, supervise, civilize, moisturize, appetize, reorganize, photosynthesize, recognize, sanitize, deodorize, televise, legalize, analyze, immortalize, traumatize, jeopardize, and fertilize. AND as you might suspect from this list, the story  is written in rhyme. Kudos!

I love it when an author takes such a bold stance and uses so many $3 words in a picture book. The illustrations suit the text perfectly, providing lots of help for understanding the full meaning of those crazy words.

We follow the adventures of Little Gert who happily eats so much dirt, she becomes  rooted in the soil and begins to sprout. The worms provide a running commentary while Little Gert goes from an anonymous dirt-eating toddler to an overnight sensation.

And the ending? I can’t give it away. It, too, is perfect.

The jacket copy says: “Dirty Gert celebrates individuality and unconditional love.” I’d also say that it celebrates playful language, ridiculous situations, and dirt-eating toddlers around the world.

The author, Tedd Arnold, has won an Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel and has two Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor Books. I’m going to take a look at his other work. Enjoy!

Title: Dirty Gert

Author/Illustrator: Tedd Arnold

Publisher: Holiday House

Pub date: 2013

Ages: 3-6yrs

52 thoughts on “Dirty Gert – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Lady Fancifull says:

    But it’s so American! We couldn’t possibly have it over here for our small people, not with all those izes.

    You write ize, we write ise, potaytize, tomahtise, let’s call the whole thing Carl Orff!

  2. FictionFan says:

    5 books a day!!! I’m sending a complete set of my TBR – please send back the reviews by return!

    (PS LF is so right about these zees – or zeds as we English-speakers call them… 😉 )

  3. Mrs. P says:

    The cover is very appealing. I am sure that most kids would pull it off a shelf and read it simply because the cover is inviting them to look.

    When I was teaching we had a core selection of children’s books by reading level. Each level was broken into three parts gradually getting more and more complex, making a perfect bridge to the next level. Each level had about 210 books on it. It was the teacher’s job to find additional picture/chapter books that aligned with each level. I spent many hours sitting on the floor of the children’s library, reading book after book. I loved it and I loved all the books. It was very helpful when working with reading students to have the familiarity with the books and to know where they might run into difficulty with language or concept. So good to hear that you are doing a lot of reading, too! 😀


    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I’m swimming in picture books. It’s such a lovely thing to do. I like how you organized your library. But how did you keep all of them straight. I have my favorites that stay with me, but others just seem to disappear in the sinkhole of my brain.

      • Mrs. P says:

        We made a master list and labeled them by color for level and a, b or c for where they were on the level. With practice you can easily tell which level just by reading. Of course, I haven’t done this in over ten years so I am out of practice! But I do still enjoy reading the books… Ideas for grandson as he come of age. 😃

  4. sabrinawrites1 says:

    It is pretty bold to use all those ‘izes’ in a picture book format but kids are much more cleverer than we give them credit for. If anything else, even if they don’t entirely understand, they’ll have fun with the pronounciation.

  5. Creatopath says:

    This story sounds like a lot of fun. Kids will love it! The front cover made me laugh and I love all the rhyming words used in the story. Eye-catching title too. Good pick.

  6. Catherine Johnson says:

    I’ve seen this cover so much I can’t remember if I’ve read it. I’ll just have to order it and find out.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, do! If you have read it, you’ll still enjoy reading it again. Although, she made such a distinct impression on me, I’m wondering if you have just seen the cover. That little girl is sooo memorable.

  7. Ste J says:

    I never ate dirt as a child which now means I feel like I missed out on something, never mind it is never to late to start eating dirt! It sounds like a fun book, I may have to indulge.

  8. Kate Johnston says:

    Hurrah for a book that isn’t dumbed down. I think kids do just fine with tougher vocabulary. Gives them something to reach for. Just yesterday, one of my third-grade writing students used the word ‘profound’ when speaking of his tragically flawed character. Such a hoot.

  9. Sheila says:

    I would have loved this book way back when. My favorite thing was to play in the mud and worms were my friends. I’ll have to get this for my nieces and nephews in case tendencies like that are genetic.

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