All the Dirt: A History of Getting Clean

All the Dirt

Annick Press, 2016
Illustrated by Capucine Mazille

All the Dirt was a finalist for several readers’ choice awards in Ontario, the Maritimes, Alberta and British Columbia, a joint winner of Best Books for Kids and Teens from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and the winner of the Green Book Festival Award for children.

A real “stinker” of a book that takes a lighthearted look at the history of cleanliness. Recommended for 9 to 12 year olds.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. At least that was the point of view espoused by John Wesley in 18th-century England. But accounts of people bathing go back to the Bronze Age in the Indus Valley.

All the Dirt is a lively, informative exploration of the evolution of personal hygiene. Starting with a number of myths about cleanliness, the author gives a quick overview of the topic. Throughout most of history, people rejected the notion of keeping clean, with some exceptions—the ancient Romans were obsessive about it. Readers will discover how the definition of cleanliness in one part of the world may differ radically from another. Medieval Christians actually thought a dirty body was a holy body, and cleanliness showed a suspicious attachment to luxury.

There is just enough of a gross factor that young readers will find the book as entertaining as it is enlightening. Colorful spreads, lots of sidebars, humorous illustrations, and photos make it ideal for browsing as well as reading in depth.

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Praise for All the Dirt

“Don’t eat while reading this!” — Montzalee, Goodreads

“The myth-shattering is well-documented.” — Kirkus Reviews

“I was amaised how the Japanese toylets wipe your bum.” — Zavan, age 6 (Okay, he is a grandson.)

“By demonstrating that something as seemingly unassailable as the definition of ‘clean’ has shifted back and forth throughout history and geography, the book encourages kids to look critically at commonly accepted ideas.” — Quill & Quire

“Every once in a while I had to walk away from it, because there is SO MUCH INFORMATION in it.” — No greater compliment, from John, age 10 (another grandson)

“With its lively writing and presentation, this informative book makes the history of cleanliness unexpectedly fun.” — Booklist, 10/01/16

“A factual yet witty take on dirt and cleanliness. Highly recommended for school libraries.” — School Library Journal, 10/16

“Compulsively readable … Well researched and clearly written …” — National Reading Campaign, 11/16/16

“… even the most reluctant historians are sure to be delighted …” —Foreword Reviews, Winter/16

“… a lively, informative exploration …” — Metroland Media, 10/26/16