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Toilets, Bathtubs, Sinks, and Sewers: A History of the Bathroom Library Binding – February 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Library Binding: 70 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum (February 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689318944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689318948
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8?A well-written book that provides interesting tidbits about the history of personal cleanliness and hygiene. Among other things, readers will learn that the first flush toilet was found at the palace at Knossos on Crete; that citizens of Babylon had to build stairs down to reach their houses because the streets rose higher and higher with successive layers of garbage and sewage topped with clay; and that the early Christians considered bathing sinful. The catchy chapter titles, e.g., "Ugh, Gross!," are not always indicative of the material covered; the index, however, is detailed and more than makes up for this lack of concreteness. The text is well illustrated with black-and-white photographs and reproductions on almost every page. Unfortunately, there are no maps or timeline to pinpoint the locations and periods of the various accoutrements discussed. This title might inspire further forays into the cultures mentioned, and at the very least is an entertaining addition.?Kate Hegarty Bouman, Susquehanna Valley Junior High School, Conklin, NY
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. "There is no truer sign of civilization in culture than good sanitation. A good drain implies as much as a beautiful statue." So said a British archaeologist, and readers will agree after reading this intriguing account of toilets, tubs, and sanitation systems. Colman begins with speculation about how prehistoric types might have taken care of waste and then speeds through history, zig-zagging across continents, telling us who washed (the Minoans and the Romans, among others), who didn't (medieval Europeans), and the various methods for taking care of personal hygiene. Naturally, this topic will be utterly fascinating to middle-graders (and let's face it, for adults, too), and while Colman stays within the bounds of good taste, she offers plenty of anecdotes that will have kids happily yelling, "Gross!" Among them: Marco Polo's observation that the residents of Kinsai wiped themselves with a bare left hand; that people used to throw the contents of chamber pots into the streets, often splattering passersby; and that Queen Isabella of Spain considered it a source of pride that she had taken only two baths in her life. Lots of black-and-white photos supplement the text and show a remarkable variety of sanitation devices. This one will be hard to keep on the shelves. Get two copies--one for serious students of the sanitary arts, the other for captivated browsers. Ilene Cooper

More About the Author

Penny Colman writes about illustrious and fascinating women and a wide range of significant and intriguing topics in her award-winning books for all ages. Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1944, she grew up in North Warren, Pennsylvania, on the grounds of a state mental hospital, where her father was a psychiatrist. In 1960, she joined a group and rode her bicycle (plus took a few train rides) across the U.S. In 1964 she dropped out of college, worked in a frozen food factory in Sweden and hitchhiked throughout Europe, including to Turkey and Greece. Between 1965-1970, she graduated from college and graduate school, got married, and had three very close-in-age children. In 1987, as her children were graduating from high school, Penny Colman embarked on a freelance writing career and has been going full steam ever since.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Library Binding
I found this book on a list of sure-fire hits for boys in fourth or fifth grade. Knowing that it is indeed a topic of great interest for that demographic, I had to check it out There were two mentions of sex in the book, as in this mention about public baths: "Finally, many baths became places where people bought and sold sex; just as in Roman times, church leaders forced the baths to close." And this line: "Men and women bathed together in public and private baths without feeling embarrassed, or without getting sexually involved with each other."
In the community I teach in, a line like this would get me in a lot of trouble with parents. The book is indeed perfect for the age group otherwise. Do I black out the two objectionable lines and use the book in class?
I'm not sure yet. But the book seems to be well-researched, with an introduction absolutely guaranteed to capture the interest of young readers, as the author details her experiences on a 13-day rafting trip far from a bathroom. The rafting company's solution is...interesting!
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