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Dirty Gert Hardcover – January 1, 2013
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From School Library Journal
PreS-K-Gert loves playing in dirt: digging holes, making mud pies, even eating it. Her parents indulge her earth-loving ways, leaving their daughter to spend most of her time with the chatty worms. While eating mud in the rain one day, the combination of soil and water causes Gert to put down roots and develop treelike appendages. Others are not so enthusiastic about her changes: her brother covers her with a trash can; the neighbors think she needs to be cleaned; and then the lawyers, news reporters, and Hollywood crews show up to capitalize on Gert's strange transformation. "The lawyers called. They were appalled!/No one had legalized her." The little girl-tree begins to wilt under all of the attention, so, in an anticlimactic ending, her parents bring Gert in to the safety of the house for a meal: dirt, of course. Arnold's cartoonlike big-eyed, big-headed characters give the story his signature touch of humor and are the book's strength. Gert's wild nature is evident in her three askew ponytails and the smudges of dirt that cover her face in nearly every illustration. The story is set almost completely in the backyard, but Gert is still seen from a variety of perspectives, including as a giant from a worm's-eye view. The rhyming text introduces great vocabulary words, like "photosynthesize" and "botanist," but readers never actually hear from Gert or learn of her thoughts about her transformation, which limits the depth of the story.-Marian McLeod, Darien Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ever since she was a little “squirt,” Gert loved to play in dirt, a proclivity that led her to become a “soil internalizer.” Her parents are very accepting of how much time she spends in the dirt and how much of it she eats, but one day, when she stays out in the rain, Gert grows roots, sprouts leaves, and gets “photosynthesized.” After growing into a phenomenon tended by Hollywood and lawyers alike, her parents come to her aid by digging her up and setting her at the dinner table with the rest of the family, where they keep her happily fertilized with a plateful of dirt (which looks better than the peas everybody else is having). The colorful computerized drawings of large-faced humans are quintessential Arnold, and the running commentary made by a cadre of earthworms adds even more humor to the already outlandish scenario. While the story idea is slight in its realization, the punchy rhyming text helps make for a total package of silly, clean fun. Preschool-Grade 1. --Andrew Medlar
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One of my favorites as well. b b