3 out of 4 stars
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Josephine Stabile introduces young readers to the importance of personal hygiene in her picture book, Dirty Sally. Sally doesn't understand why her friends don't want to play with her. She talks to her mother about her problem and receives some helpful advice.
The professionally edited children's book is 28 pages. It addresses themes of self-esteem, friendship, rejection, acceptance, encouragement, confidence, self-care, and pride while teaching young readers about personal hygiene.
I especially liked the colorful illustrations and Stabile's fun feature that encouraged children to find the hidden ladybug on each page. I also appreciated that the book conveyed Sally's ease as she discussed her problem with her mother. Additionally, Stabile consistently portrayed the characters' different emotions through their facial expressions, including confusion, understanding, confidence, and pride.
On the other hand, none of Sally's "friends" exemplified friendship by explaining why they didn't want to play with her. Although Sally stated, "Messy or neat, I'm still me," her friendships seemed to be dependent on her physical appearance, and I disliked the mixed message this conveyed to children. Stabile referred to Sally's changes in hygiene practices, such as washing her face, combing her hair, and wearing clean clothes. However, the illustrations did not display these actions and barely reflected noticeable changes. The only difference I noted in Sally's appearance was the absence of smudged dirt on her face, so it seemed highly unlikely "no one recognized her at school" or that she would be asked if she was a new student. Likewise, she was pictured in the same clothes throughout the book. By not including illustrations of Sally actually practicing good hygiene and wearing a fresh change of clothes, Stabile missed the opportunity to show positive examples instead of merely telling young readers about them.
Overall, I rate Dirty Sally 3 out of 4 stars for its gentle approach to teaching young readers about personal hygiene. I recommend the book to children through the age of 10 and teachers, parents, and grandparents.
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