What You Should Know About Tubs, Toilets and Showers
by Patricia Lauber
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-A lighthearted but fact-filled look at plumbing throughout history. Starting with the Stone Age, Lauber traces key developments related to bathing, washing, and the disposal of human waste. The ways in which different civilizations met the practical challenges of providing efficient tubs and toilets are fascinating. A conversational tone makes the text accessible, with just enough facts and figures included to give the information substance. Specific details and general observations work together to create an entertaining overview of the topic. Cartoon illustrations, many with dialogue balloons, add more humor. Figures are lively caricatures, with a variety of sometimes bare bodies showing bathroom practices through the ages. The exaggerations in the illustrations present humorous looks at such conditions as dumping chamber pots onto the street and therapeutic ice-water showers. Though many of the pencil-and-watercolor cartoons will evoke giggles, they also successfully depict historical scenes in ways that readers will remember. Much of the history centers on Europe, and later America, but a two-page spread shows the emphasis that other civilizations placed on sanitation. The intriguing historical facts and the clever humor make this an excellent title for nonfiction booktalking. Readers wanting a more thorough, but no less fascinating presentation can move up to Penny Colman's Toilets, Bathtubs, Sinks, and Sewers (Atheneum, 1994).-Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Booklist, May 15, 2001, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.:
Gr. 2-4. Humorous cartoon-style artwork in mixed media lightheartedly advances this picture-book history of baths and toilets. Looking back as far as the Stone Age, Lauber efficiently telescopes history to reveal that the earliest-known bathtub--a large pottery bowl--came from ancient Crete. The Romans built both private and public baths. One huge facility accommodated 3,000 bathers simultaneously. Public toilets were found in ancient Roman and Greek cities. Amusing sidebars poke fun at the primitive waste-disposal methods that prevailed through the ages. Youngsters will roar in delight at the sight of King Louis XIV of France receiving visitors while seated on his closestool (a chamber pot hidden beneath an upholstered seat). They'll also be intrigued to discover that baths were considered unhealthy during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Not until the discovery of germs in the mid-1800s was the importance of cleanliness recognized, and it wasn't until 1851 that the White House had a bathtub with running water. Children will relish this comic history; pair it with Mick Manning's Wash, Scrub, Brush! [BKL My 1 01], which is a more practical approach to good grooming.
¾: Ellen Mandel.: