Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Man Who Didn't Wash His Dishes

The Man Who Didn't Wash His Dishes
Phyllis Krasilovsky ~ illustrations by Barbara Cooney
Doubleday, 1950

I'm surprised it took me this long to get around to this book. Found at a thrift shop but instantly remembered from my own youth, it's one of those old school titles that is lovely in its simplicity and innocent humor. Each drawing is a little wonder in green and black and holds a unique scene that can be studied time and again. I just love the man's hands and the way his cat appears here and there, nose in a bowl of milk or on tiptoes peaking out a window. Not to mention that Cooney was a children's book legend who peppered most everyone's childhood bookshelves with her black outlines and wonderful sense of color. The sad thing is, I don't believe I own or have ever read her opus (I know, I know, loser) Miss Rumphius.

Cooney was a lover of life, for sure, and had a wonderful take on the world of children's books, one that was echoed when she received the Caldecott Medal in 1959 for Chanticleer and the Fox ~ "I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting.... It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand.... a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to—or draw down to—children." Too true. And so...

Once there was a man who lived all alone and...

One night he came home hungrier than usual, so he made himself a big, big supper. It was a very good supper (he liked to cook and could make good things to eat), but there was so much of it that he grew very, very tired by the time he finished. He just sat in his chair, as full as he could be, and decided he'd leave the dishes in the sink till the next night, and then he would wash them all at once.

Never put off today what you might get stuck dealing with tomorrow. As each day passes, a new load of filth gets cast to the wayside and soon dirty dishes fill the house and the man finds himself eating out of soap dishes. It's not long before there is nowhere for him to go that isn't filled to the brim with undone chores. Well, fear not. It's nothing that a little precipitation can't take care of when he loads the dishes onto a truck and lets nature do her thing. Funny, funny stuff. Again on some of these pictures, I am wishing someone would start a t-shirt company that licences old children's illustration. I must have one for the boy with that cat. Those green eyes just kill me.

Also by:
Christmas in the Barn
Chanticleer and the Fox
The Crows of Pearblossom
Ox-Cart Man
Wynken, Blynken and Nod

8 comments:

Mark Ury said...

Love this one. The warmth of the art and the beauty of the green spot color really bring it to life.

featherbed said...

this is so cute and the illustrations are awesome!

Sandra said...

I haven't read this one. Don't know if I could..methinks the subject matter hits a leeeettle too close to home (now to get my hands on a pickup truck!!)

Becky said...

I so remember this book. I also vaguely remember another book about a little girl who wouldn't take the trash out. Cute books. Love the illustrations! There is another book that I think will be just as memorable for my kids when they get older... "Runt Farm: Under New Management (part of a new book series called the farm series), written by Amanda Lorenzo. There is just something about great stories and vibrant illustrations.

simonsterg said...

This looks like a great book.
Also I like the words:

"I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting.... It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand.... "

simonsterg said...

Funny.. I saw this here and I thought I'd like to have this book but didn't get round to it (I did order and receive The Chanticleer and the Fox after reading your post on it). Then the other night I was sorting my books a little (putting all the Anansi ones in one place, the Aesop's in another, etc, and there it was, The Man Who Didn't Wash His Dishes. I've no idea how it got there!

Carol said...

Subtract 20 yrs. or so from the man's age, and this would be my youngest son! When he'd moved from home for the first time, into a tiny studio apt., I gave him my old set of stoneware dishes, 16 place settings (dinner plates, salad/dessert plates, cereal bowls, cups & saucers, all in fine shape). All he had to wash dishes in was a utility sink in his bathroom. Busy with college classes and work, living alone, he'd put off dishwashing for days and days. Didn't pre-rinse dishes, so eventually they got EXTREMELY yucky. So at last, he'd end up throwing them away! He later confessed this to his new bride and to me, and we all groaned/laughed together about it. She just said, "So THAT's why we only have four cereal bowls!" I'll have to get this book for him to read to their future children, and he can add his own story to it!

H2oGirl said...

This was one of my most FAVORITE books during my childhood! I think of this book from time to time and I STILL HAVE my copy from when I was 6 or 7 years old! What a classic! <3

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