Harry the Dirty Dog



Expressive illustrations with old-fashioned charm.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though Harry is a dog, his running away from home to avoid a bath is not the best example.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that children get a vicarious kick out of Harry's escape from home, and love the verbal and visual build-up from "very dirty" to "dirtier" to "dirtiest of all."

Kids say

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What's the story?

Harry the dog goes to great lenghts to avoid his bath. Most children love dogs, and the mischievous Harry has real-dog allure. Children can identify with Harry and the occasional desire to escape the restraints of home--and bath. Expressive illustrations, with old-fashioned charm, add funny details to the charming story.

Is it any good?


In print since 1956, HARRY THE DIRTY DOG testifies to the continuing appeal of a simple tale, low-key humor, and a likable main character. But what really makes this and the other Harry stories stand out is Margaret Bloy Graham's pen-and-ink, pastel-washed drawings. Harry, a black-and-white spotted mutt with little short legs, a stubby tail, and an upturned nose, is surely one of the most appealing dogs in children's literature.

Being a dog, he perceives his world in an amusingly animal-centric way. Humans, although loved and needed, are just more fauna in Harry's life, and he's smarter than his family. All this helps children rejoice in their identification with Harry, but the story isn't really about all-out rebellion. Harry appreciates his home -- he just wants to have more control over bath time.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Harry changes his mind. Why was it so important for him to take a bath?

Book details

Author:Gene Zion
Illustrator:Margaret Bloy Graham
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:October 6, 1976
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byJayeden August 15, 2010

A Timeless Fun Story

A very fun read; highly recommended classic.


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