Dirty Gert – Perfect Picture Book Friday

20 Mar

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 Responses to “Dirty Gert – Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. Lady Fancifull March 20, 2015 at 8:44 am #

    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. heylookawriterfellow March 20, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Oh, this one is impossible to resist. I love it when books gloriously refuse to dumb it down.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 9:43 am #

      Yes, and I expect your OCD to take over, and you’ll give her a good scrubbing. I’m thinking you’ll love the sanitize page. 😀

  3. Laurel Leigh March 20, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    Eating dirt is an important part of every child’s development. I love it!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 9:46 am #

      You should see the look I get when I tell my son that when I was a kid, we ate white bread sandwiches with dirt fingerprints in them at lunchtime while working in the fields. He complains if a twig or a leaf falls from a tree and lands in something he’s eating. But he loved this book! 😀

      • Laurel Leigh March 20, 2015 at 10:21 am #

        LOL, we’ve become so antiseptic! White bread sandwiches with dirt fingerprints is a great image by the way!

        • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 10:38 am #

          Great tasting, too. I’ve often thought about bottling a little nice rich topsoil and selling it as a spice. The label could read: adds a sense of earthiness to every dish!

        • Laurel Leigh March 20, 2015 at 10:45 am #

          LOL, if you don’t, someone else will.

  4. FictionFan March 20, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    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… 😉 )

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 9:48 am #

      Ah yes, five picture books. That means most have fewer than 700 words. LOL

      If you send me your TBR pile, I’ll send you mine. And maybe I’ll add a few just for good meazure. Ha!

  5. Letizia March 20, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    What a great cover; I love her face, haha!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 9:50 am #

      Yes, you can truly see that dirt is the love of her life. I wonder who she’ll be attracted to when she grows up? A dust devil?

  6. Patricia Tilton March 20, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    I want to read this book! Very clever concept. Kids need to play and get dirty. I love the illustrations and use of large words in rhyme. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 10:37 am #

      I think you’ll really like it and find kids drawn to its playfulness.

  7. Joanne Roberts (@BookishAmbition) March 20, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    I’ve read this too, but not for ReFoReMo. My brain and notebook are exploding with all the great PB stuff I’m learning. How ’bout you?

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 10:39 am #

      My cup runneth over and over and over. Red rover, red rover, send another picture book right over!

  8. julie rowan zoch March 20, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    That cover is hilarious!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

      You should see the rest. It’s one terrific illustration after another.

      • julie rowan zoch March 20, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

        On hold – thanks!

        • Keila Dawson March 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

          Oh my goodness, a must read. Oh and how little girls will love to see that! I have a photo of me, at about three, covered head to toe in dirt, like Gert! LOL

        • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

          I, too, was a fan of dirt. I used to play in the tiny creek on our farm and more often than not came back to the house in the evening looking like I should have left my entire body in the mud room. 😀 Enjoy the book!

  9. Joanna March 20, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    My 5 year old self would have LOVED this, it sounds hilarious and priceless.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

      I highly recommend giving it as a gift to all those small dirt-loving people you know. Although, the large ones can still get a kick out of this. 😀

  10. Sue Heavenrich March 20, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    Definitely a “perfect” picture book – and perfect for spring, when worms will be busy in the dirt, with Gert.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 20, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

      I hope spring will arrive soon for those on the East Coast. I’m sure a little dirt and mud sounds good right now. Hope you’re not one of those in the snow. Cheers!

  11. Mrs. P March 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    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 March 20, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

      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 March 23, 2015 at 7:12 am #

        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. 😃

  12. Margarita March 21, 2015 at 6:14 am #

    You tantalize me with this one, Jilanne. I’ll have to find a kid to read this to! 😉 xoxoM

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 21, 2015 at 9:23 am #

      Check it out at the library and read it to any kid you can find. 😀

  13. sabrinawrites1 March 21, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    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.

  14. Creatopath March 22, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    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.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 23, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      Thank you! That little girl won my heart. I’ll bet she’ll win yours, too. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Catherine Johnson March 23, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    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 March 23, 2015 at 9:41 am #

      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.

  16. clarbojahn March 23, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    This is so tanantilizing I am putting it on hold right now. Don’t want to miss this one Sounds absolutely wonderful 🙂

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 23, 2015 at 9:42 am #

      Yes! Yes! Yes! I think you will love it! Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Ste J March 24, 2015 at 3:08 am #

    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.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 24, 2015 at 9:17 am #

      It’s never too late to acquire a taste for minerals. 😀

  18. ThisKidReviewsBooks March 25, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    This sounds amazing! 😀

  19. Kate Johnston March 26, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    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.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 26, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      I’ll bet you smiled. It’s soooo exciting to hear them use their vocabulary—at least when it’s $3 words. 😀

  20. Sheila March 26, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    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.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann March 26, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

      Do it! You—and they—will have great fun reading it together. 😀

  21. Stacy S. Jensen March 26, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    Lucky me. I found this one at the library. I guess it’s OK to be late. The books remain perfect.

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