I’m Dirty! — Perfect Picture Book Friday

June 15, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday is going on hiatus until September. Since that is the case, I wanted to do something a little different today. In July, I’ll be attending a Children’s Literature Conference, and will be studying with author Kate McMullan — so I’ve decided to feature one of Kate’s picture books today. Believe me, it was difficult to decide which of her books to feature, but with summer and sandboxes and digging in the dirt on my mind, I’m Dirty! won out.

Title: I’m Dirty!

Author: Kate McMullan

Illustrator: Jim McMullan

Publisher: New York: Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins, 2006.

Genre: Picture book, fiction

Audience Age: 3-8

Themes/topics: Trucks, construction vehicles, backhoes, what a backhoe does, picking up trash

Opening Sentences: Who’s got a BOOM, a dipper stick, and a BUCKET with a row of chompers? ME! And that’s just my REAR end!

Synopsis: I’m Dirty! is a day in the life of a backhoe, told by the backhoe himself. There is hilarious irony in the spreads in which the backhoe must clean up all kinds of junk dumped next to three “No Dumping” signs (he eventually cleans up the broken signs, as well). A count-down has the reader counting backwards from 10 to 1 as he dumps the items in the dumpster. A tug-of-war tussle with a stubborn, deeply rooted stump has the reader almost physically straining to help the backhoe. Kate McMullan’s lively, rrrrrrm’ing text and her husband Jim’s mud-drippingly delightful illustrations combine to make this a great book for kids who like things that make lots of noise and get very dirty.

Although most people would characterize this as a boys’ book, I’m not keen on stereotypes. When I was a small girl, I happily played with trucks and a battery-operated bulldozer as well as dolls, and I loved things that zzzzooooooomed. The appeal to all kids, whatever gender, who love sandboxes, digging in dirt, and machines that zoom is evident on every page of this book. I highly recommend it – but I must admit that it was very difficult to choose to feature this book instead of Kate’s and Jim’s I’m Mighty! or I’m Fast! or any of the other delightful books in this series. So, check them all out!

Activities/Resources: There are resources, including video clips and coloring pages, for all of Kate and Jim McMullan’s picture books at Kate’s website. You can even see the step-by-step process they went through to create their latest book, I’m Fast!

There are interviews at Teaching Books, but unfortunately the pdf lesson plan is only available to members.

Suite 101 has a fantastic list of suggested activities for preschoolers on the topic of diggers and other construction vehicles.

Another activity would be to take toy diggers out to the sandbox, and talk about how the real ones work while digging toys out of the sand, or building roads, etc.

Since the backhoe in the story cleans up a vacant lot that is filled with trash, a family or class project could include becoming involved in a similar project, cleaning up trash. PBSKids has a page with suggested activities for helping the environment.

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.

Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”

This is the last Perfect Picture Book Friday until September, but remember that the list of books and resources is always there, for those times you’re looking for just the perfect picture book for a summer day’s or night’s reading.

37 People reacted on this

  1. McMullen’s book sounds like a clever twist on a universal truck theme. Since both trucks and being dirty are popular with my kids, I’ll have to check it out. Have fun at your conference and study program with Kate. Sounds like a great opportunity

    1. I think it’s going to be amazing to study with Kate. Her picture books are a delight — the others in this series are excellent as well. (Note: I’ll be studying chapter books and middle grade fiction with her.)

    1. I love this book — and Kate’s other books as well. Watch for a large McMullan section in your library! (picture books, chapter books, middle grade — she’s fantastic.)

  2. This book (and the other ones you mentioned) looks terrific! My kids would have loved it when they were little. I’m with you on the stereotyping. I have kids of both genders and they were all equally enthralled by Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel 🙂 Thanks for adding this wonderful book to our list, and I will definitely have to check out this author!

    1. She’s an excellent writer, Susanna. I think you’d also like her middle grade series “Dragon Slayers Academy” — I love those books!

  3. My tomboy Chipmunk might find this one a great read. On a recent trip with friends, my daughter faced a choice, make mudpies with the girls or play hard with the boys. No surprise my Chipmunk was roughing it up and having a blast with the boys. lol!!!

    1. I think Chipmunk would love all this series. i forget how old Chipmunk is, but she might also like the middle grade series, Dragon Slayers Academy, by Kate.

  4. It is uncountable how many times I have read the books in this series by Jim and Kate McMullan to my kids. It was the I Stink book in this series that made me realize that I should celebrate children’s author birthdays with my family.

    I believe the next book in the series is going to be about a fire truck! That will be awesome!

    Great post and selection for PPBF!

    1. So wonderful that Kate’s books are what started your wonderful Happy Birthday Author blog series! I bet Kate’s proud of that distinction. A fire truck? Cool.

      Thanks, Eric!

    1. I Stink! is a great one as well — the branch library I was in didn’t have it, so I only came home with three. I seriously considered doing all three in this week’s PPBF!

  5. I love Kat McMullans books — they are noisy, smelly and grimy. She is a master at showing. But most important, kids love her books. Love the entire series.

  6. I agree with you about gender stereotyping…I could go on, but I won’t!! Anyways, this looks great for my children! Neat that you will get to study with Kate. Enjoy your summer!

    1. Thanks, Darshana! Hope you have a great summer, as well! There’s sure a lot of votes for I Stink! today. If PPBF was continuing through the summer, I could do Kate’s whole series!

  7. Sprocket would love this book because he loves being dirty. and I completely agree that you shouldn’t let gender stereotypes determine what books to read to children. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this series. My dolls and bulldozers and dinosaurs all played together when I was little.

    1. This is definitely a Sprocketty book. I love hearing about your dolls and bulldozers and dinosaurs playing together! Thanks, LittleMiao!

        1. Awww! That would be purrfect.
          The other day, my father said that he found Sprocket with dust bunnies all over his head, but he had to check to make sure they weren’t ear tufts first!

  8. I love this entire series, and confess if I had to choose, it would also be I STINK! The images and word images just jump off the pages; A skilled picture book creator!

    1. I’m getting the strong impression that perhaps I should lead off the return to PPBF in the fall with I STINK! !!!

      Kate is indeed a skilled picture book creator, as well as chapter book and middle grade. Watch for Dragon Slayers Academy to be featured in this space on Friday the 22nd.

  9. “Although most people would characterize this as a boys’ book, I’m not keen on stereotypes. When I was a small girl, I happily played with trucks and a battery-operated bulldozer as well as dolls, and I loved things that zzzzooooooomed. ”

    Yes! I dislike the idea of labeling books boys books and girls books, it’s like closing the door to an entire gender. Thanks for a great review, Beth!

    1. It’s great fun, Erik! I think you’d enjoy it. (I also think you’ll LOVE the books I’m featuring on Friday next week.)

  10. Going by all the comments here I really need to check out Kate’s books.
    Thanks, and enjoy your time at the Conference Beth. Look forward to hearing about it.

  11. This sounds like such a fun book! Love the title. 🙂

    (sorry I haven’t been keeping up on comments. Things have been a bit busy. I do read your posts in my email though)

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