Tungsten Carbide Wedding Band Sterling Silver Locket Ideal Cut Diamonds
Reading My Library

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Dirty Little Boy, by Margaret Wise Brown

Today I've just gotta tell you about one of the Margaret Wise Brown books that we brought home from the library that I did not particularly care for.

The Dirty Little Boy tells the story of a little boy who "came to his big round mother and [he] said: "Mother, I am one dirty little boy. I have jam on my face and chocolate on my knee." He continues on in his description of filth and concludes, "I think I want to take a bath."

Then his big round mother replies that she's busy and suggests to him that he should go and find out how the animals bathe and keep clean.

"Run along, and see how the animals take their baths and that way you'll learn how to get clean."

So he, clearly being an obedient child, goes off and discovers how birds, pigs, horses and cats 'get clean.' In the learning he becomes dirtier and dirtier and finally returns home to his 'big round mother.' (Can you tell what description I dislike?)

She scowls at him because he returns home dirtier than he left.

"How is that you didn't find out how little boys take a bath?" she asks.

I wanted to scream at her. DUH! Her impatience and annoyance led to him licking mud off of himself and doing other disgusting things in his attempt to become clean.

And she turned on the water and grabbed him by the back of his neck and put him right into the big soapy tub. "I guess it's your mother who will have to show you how to get clean."

To me this book was all about one annoyed mother who couldn't take the time to care for her son. So she sends him out into the world with a wing and a useless prayer and somehow expects him to find his own solution. Then he returns, dirtier than when she last saw him and she is annoyed. Surely the person she should be most annoyed with is herself!

I didn't really care for the whole grabbing him by the back of the neck bit either but that might be my more modern day sensibilities. At any rate, it seems brash and unkind and I did not care for the mother figure in this book one iota!

It's not often that I pick out books I dislike to discuss here, but some just really rub me the wrong way and this is one of those titles. So I'm labeling it as such.

I do not recommend it and I don't like it - be she big and round or svelte and sophisticated. It's her heart attitude that really gets to me. She's not exactly the type of mother I aspire to be, that's for sure and certain!


  1. Yes, I agree. What an odd and mean way to go about encouraging your child to take a bath.

  2. Ick. Yuck. Rubs me all the wrong way.

    Big, round, neglectful mother.

  3. Oh my! What a frustrating book. However, as the illustration attests, the description of "big round mother" was entirely accurate :-)

  4. LOL, Bekahcubed - that is indeed the case!

  5. Ah, the big round mother. I'm afraid I identify with her (in more ways than one!) sometimes! ;-) But you're right--definitely not someone to emulate! :-)

  6. But it's not really awful like you say. First, it was written in the 50s--a time in which things like rolling around in the mud were expected, everyday activities for children. The fact is, we are often too busy to attend to our children's secondary needs at the very moment they want them cared for. Sometimes, even hunger has to take a back seat to another child's illness or dirty diaper. This mother was encouraging independence and curiosity in her son, both of which are imperative to development. Also, Margaret Wise Brown does wonderful things with language. "Big" and "round" are not derogatory adjectives; they are merely descriptive. Some people are big, some are small, some are round, and some are thin.

    Finally, in the end, the mother scoops him up and lovingly washes him from head to toe and treks him how silly he was to try to wash like those animals because he is /her/ little boy, thus indicating that she was joking in the first place.

    This book is a piece of magnificent poetry, written by one of the most prolific and talented children's writers of last century. I'm sorry you missed the good stuff about it.