Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: All the Dirt: A History of Getting Clean

Publish November 16, 2016

All the Dirt:  A History of Getting Clean by Toronto writer Katherine Ashenburg  is a revised, children’s edition of her adult book, The Dirt on Clean:  An Unsanitized History.  Compulsively readable chapters chart the changing public attitudes towards cleanliness throughout the ages.  Starting with “Ancient Grime,” this down and dirty expose explores lavish Roman public steam baths and Greek gymnasiums.  The fourteenth century was much smellier, with the belief that washing allowed illness to enter your pores, and dirt could protect you from the Black Plague. The lost art of bathing returned in the nineteenth century with the advent of indoor plumbing.  Final chapters look at our present day standards of hygiene and Ashenburg points out that the debate over whether microbes are our friends or our foes is still ongoing today. The information is presented in a very engaging manner, with plenty of archival photographs and colourful spot illustrations.  Sidebars convey quirky and gross tidbits, such as seventeenth century perfumes made from animal secretions, the not-so-popular Parisian sidewalk shower stalls, and early soaps made from wood ash.  Well researched and clearly written, All the Dirt is a great book to leisurely read while soaking in the bathtub.

All the Dirt: A History of Getting Clean

Katherine Ashenburg
Annick Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-55451-789-3

Linda Ludke
Linda Ludke

Linda Ludke is a librarian at London Public Library.  Her reviews have appeared in Quill and QuireSchool Library Journal and CM:  Canadian Review of Materials.  When she’s not reading and writing she also loves searching for vintage treasures.

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