The Dirt on Clean
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News about The Dirt on Clean

A children’s version of The Dirt on Clean has been published by Annick Press, called All the Dirt: A History of Getting Clean. Designed for 9-to-12-year-olds, the book answers the age-old question of children: “Why do we have to take a bath?” (Although some of the answers may not please their parents.) Chosen by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre as one of the best books for kids and teenagers in 2017, the book has received excellent reviews. It is now a finalist for four provincial readers’ choice awards, where children or adult literacy students vote for their favourite books — in Nova Scotia, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

Few living writers are "the solution" to The New York Times' prestigious Sunday acrostic puzzle, but Katherine Ashenburg and The Dirt on Clean had this honour on July 12, 2014, when the acrostic was a long quotation from The Dirt on Clean. In it, St. Thomas Aquinas approves of incense at Mass because it masked the bad smell of the churchgoers! The acrostic questions were centred around the ideas of fragrance and smell, apt topics for The Dirt on Clean.

Clean, as The Dirt on Clean is called in Britain, was released in paperback, with a charming new cover of a flapper drying her fanny.

Clean was recently judged one of the 10 best history books by The Independent newspaper.

Historia Brudu, to give the book its Polish title, is a best-seller in Poland, where it has just been published.

International Editions

The Dirt on Clean has been published in Canada (Knopf Canada, Fall 2007), the U.S. (Farrar Straus, Fall 2007), England, Ireland and Scotland (Profile Books, March 2008 — the prizewinning English publishers who brought you Eats, Shoots & Leaves), Australia, New Zealand, Brazil (Larousse, Fall 2008), Japan (Hara Shobo, Fall 2008) and Poland (Bellona, 2009).

2009 will also see publications in Italy (Odoya) and Korea (Wisdom Publishing).

Recent Media

Katherine wrote several pieces in The London Times online, timed for the release of the British paperback. They include a list of famously dirty aristocrats, a timeline of clean and dirty eras through the ages, and recession-proof tips for hygiene — for example, the Renaissance recipe for deodorant, which was crushed rose petals, applied to the underarms.

Claire Allfree, in Metro, in London (26 March 2009), wrote of the new paperback, "An entertaining book that really does belong in the bathroom."

Boyd Tonkin, in The Independent (27 March 2009), wrote, "Awash with smart allusions from the Iliad to Ian McEwan, absorbing on Roman water-heating or Victorian soap, this finely-illustrated survey turns on a foaming jacussi for the mind."

Katherine speaks Polish! Well, not really, but her interview in Historia, the Polish online history magazine, has been ably translated into Polish.

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