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Dirt Boy
by Erik Jon Slangerup

Illustrated by John Manders
Albert Whitman and Company, 2000
$15.95 hardcover
32 pages

Dust jacket illustration by John Manders; used with permission of Albert Whitman & Co Fister Farnello, like a lot of kids, does not like to take baths. His mom, like a lot of moms, likes her son to be clean. So Fister runs away to the forest. There he meets an absolutely filthy giant named Dirt Man who is happy to have Fister for a friend. Life with Dirt Man is happy and grubby until . . . You know, of course, that something is going to change Fister's mind about baths. But I'm not going to tell you what.

Since nearly every child objects to the bathtub at some time or other, Dirt Boy should have a ready audience. Youngsters will instantly identify with Fister and admire his daring escape from soap and water; parents may need a stronger stomach. Author Erik Jon Slangerup relishes every wholesomely dirty opportunity he can think of, from dirt baths and mud pies to the "thick green cloud of stink" of bad breath. John Manders illustrates the story with similar gusto. He splashes rich, earthy browns and greens exuberantly across the pages, in contrast to the clean lines and color he uses for Fister's mother. Grubby fingerprints and what appears to be spattered mud add to the fun.

Advice to kids and parents: Take a bath and go to bed. There is nothing like a hint of absurd danger when you've got clean pajamas, clean self, and you're safely snuggled up for a bedtime picture book.

Dust jacket illustration by John Manders; used with permission of Albert Whitman & Co.

Reviewed by Wendy Morris. © 2001 by Wendy Morris

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