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From Pictures to Words - a guide to choosing books for beginner readers: Rhyme


Dirty Gertie Mackintosh by Dick King-Smith
Published by Corgi, 1997
ISBN 0-552-52800-5
Illustrations © Ros Asquith, 1996

“ Washed your hands?” her mum would cry.
“ ’Course I have,” she would reply.
“ But it always was a lie”.

 

These three lines, taken from Dick King Smith’s collection of poems entitled Dirty Gertie Mackintosh, sum up Gertie’s hygiene habits – or rather the lack of them. When it gets to the point where her friends can no longer tolerate “the smelly little fool” they decide to chuck her in the swimming pool and will only pull her out when she promises to wash “for all eternity”.

The first poem in Dirty Gertie Mackintosh sets the tone for the other fourteen to follow. Gertie is just one of an array of eccentric characters whose exploits will cause children to laugh out loud. There’s Miss Emily Berry – the strongest girl in the school – Arthur Best who sets off to climb Mount Everest, and Fred Moon, whose extraordinary big ears become the envy of almost every single kid in England. With a vocabulary simple enough for beginner readers and plenty of illustration, it’s an ideal introduction to verse with an ample helping of good fun as well.

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