Written in 1956 by Gene Zion with illustrations by Margaret Bloy Graham, Harry the Dirty Dog is a must have for any growing library. The story follows the adventure of Harry, a white dog with black spots, who runs away from home because it is bath time. While on his travels and mischief-making he proceeds to get extremely dirty, allowing the title of the book to come true in the process. After he spends the day running and playing all over town he is no longer a white dog with black spots, but a black dog with white spots. Of course when he arrives home his family doesn’t recognize him. That’s when Harry gets a plan leading to our happy ending.
I can’t tell you what was in the heart of author Mr. Zion, but given the time period I can’t help but wonder what he was trying to say something about race relations. I can say that many will probably feel he isn’t saying anything and he was simply using white and black as the colors that were easiest to show dirt. No matter what his reasons for writing the story, kids will identify with Harry as being forced to take a bath is not fun. No fun unless you have one of those battery operated scuba guys who’s legs kick in the water.