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.

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