No baths week by Katrina McKelvey

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Illus. by Cheri Hughes. Big Sky Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925675429.
(Age: 3-7) Themes: Bathing, Pets, Play. This is a fun, colourful adventure about Ben and his best mate Bandit (his dog) and their mission to avoid the bathtub for an entire week. The best part about this is the unstructured, messy, creative, outdoor play that Ben and Bandit engage in without an adult hovering by and directing the action. In addition they live in a big old house surrounded by space and lawn and a cow over the next door fence. Mum is patient and fun, caring for them, while at the same time letting them be independent. They finger (and paw) paint their secret hide-out, they explore forbidden and dirty places like under the house, they bake dog biscuits (even snail-flavoured ones), dig to the very bottom of the sandpit, make sticky mud pies and a mud slip and slide. At the end of each day they come up with a way of getting clean that doesn't involve the bath (the sprinkler, the mobile dog wash, even the car wash), each one with humorous results. They are running out of ideas when Mum suggests the hot, steamy dishwasher . . . that has Ben and Bandit running for the bath! Ben's unbridled spirit is obvious as he announces that next week is go to bed late week! There is a definite message for parents about giving kids freedom and access to creative and outdoor unstructured play (Ben even wears a t-shirt that says 'Art is Education') and the depiction of this play in the funny, busy illustrations will thoroughly entertain and engage young children.
Nicole Nelson