Harry the Dirty Dog - Thao Lam
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Harry the Dirty Dog

Harry the Dirty Dog

Harry the Dirty Dog

Last week my father went to visit (check up) on my sister in San Francisco and since Bella (the family dog) gets along with very few people, I was asked to babysit. I think babysit would be the most appropriate word considering that Bella is treated like my parents’ third child. Being the baby of the house, Bella did not take it lightly that my dad left her for a week, she went on a hunger strike. My life would be much easier if I was an only child. Keep reading…

Harry the Dirty Dog, written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham is one for dog lovers or for those who resist bath time. “Harry was a white dog with black spots who liked everything except getting a bath.” At the sound of running bath water Harry buries the scrub brush in the backyard and runs away from home. Harry gets dirtier and dirtier playing in the streets. By the time he gets home he is completely unrecognizable to his family. Harry went from being a white dog with black spots to a black dog with white spots. The family is unconvinced that Harry is their dog until he unearths his scrub brush and begs the family for a bath.

First printed in 1956, these wholesome illustrations are a reflection of the times. Follow Harry on his little adventure through the town and see what life was like in the 50’s. I am having a hard time guessing the medium of these cartoon-like illustrations; I think it’s either tempera or watercolour with charcoal or crayon. These loosely rendered illustrations give you a sense of Grahams working process, you can see her pencil sketches and what colours she laid down first and what she did next. The illustrations look like they were executed on the spur of the moment with a feeling of playfulness that seems to match Harry’s personality. For more fun times with Harry check out the other books in this series: No Roses for Harry! Harry and the Lady Next Door and Harry by the Sea.

Harry the Dirty Dog, a children’s book review by Thao Lam

Author Gene Zion

(1913 to 1975)

Gene Zion attended the New School of Social Research and the Pratt Institute. He met and married artist Margaret Bloy Graham while working at Conde Nast Publishing as an art director. He and his wife collaborated on several of picture books. His career as an author lasted as long as his marriage, Zion stopped writing when his marriage ended in 1968.


Illustrator Margaret Bloy Graham

Margaret Bloy Graham is a Canadian, born on November 2nd, 1920 in Toronto Ontario. Her father was a physician and her mother was a nurse. As a child, reading was one of her favorite pastime, reading meant more to her than drawing.

While living in Toronto Graham attended Saturday morning drawing classes at the Art Gallery of Ontario. With the encouragement of a high school art teacher she continued to draw. Graham ended up majoring in art history at the University of Toronto, while at school she created window displays for department stores and painted large murals. After graduation she took a summer course at the Art Students League in New York City. Graham continued her studies at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and at the New School for Social Research.

In 1946 she was hired to work in the art department of Conde Nast Publication where she met her first husband Gene Zion. The husband and wife team gained notoriety among children with their series of Harry the Dog books.


Publisher HarperCollins; 50 Anv edition (September 5, 1956)

ISBN-10 0060268654

ISBN-13 978-0060268657