Saturday 9th February is Read in a Bathtub Day! In honour of this fantastic event, which perfectly combines bathing and reading, I have gathered together a list of bath-related picture books. These are ideal for sharing with little ones, particularly at bathtime.
The Flying Bath
Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by David Roberts
The calls have started! Who is first?
A kangaroo is weak with thirst!
One by one the calls come in from animals across the globe in need of water: from the grubby piglet who needs a shower, to a frightened baboon whose tree is on fire. But never fear, the bath toys are coming to the rescue in their magical flying bathtub! And they have water enough for every emergency.
In this fabulously fun story, the bath toys (a duck, frog and wind-up turtle) answer calls for help from animals around the world. With the refrain, “Wings out, and off we fly. The Flying Bath is in the sky!”, they set off to provide assistance to a thirsty kangaroo, a worried bee, a grubby piglet, a frightened baboon and an endangered fish. Then they head home in time for the children to have a bath. The story is told using only speech bubbles, making it perfect for retelling. There are lots of details in the pictures. Look closely to find out what each animal uses as a phone!
In my opinion, you can never go past a Julia Donaldson picture book. She is just the best at creating great stories with perfect rhyming text. And she always works with such great illustrators: Axel Scheffler, Lydia Monks, Rebecca Cobb, Lucy Richards and Sara Ogilvie. She has collaborated with David Roberts on Tyrannosaurus Drip, The Troll and, my favourite, Jack and the Flum-Flum Tree. All three are worth searching for at your local library.
Whale in the Bath
Written by Kylie Westaway and illustrated by Tom Jellett
“Bruno, get in the bath!”
Bruno can’t wash when there is a whale in the bath. Why won’t anyone believe him?
A bubbly read-aloud story about bathtime with a very splashy solution.
Poor Bruno! He needs to have a bath, but there is a whale in the tub and it’s using his bubblegum bubble bath! His sister, Ally, doesn’t believe him and his brother, Pete, thinks it’s impossible for a whale to fit in a bath. Bruno is unable to reason with the whale. The situation looks hopeless until the whale has an idea; he whooshes water out of his blowhole and creates a shower for Bruno to wash under!
I really enjoyed this book, which was a 2015 CBCA Notable Book. It was lots of fun to read, especially the conversations between Bruno and the whale. And I love the endpapers, which are full of shrimp. Kylie Westaway and Tom Jellett have also worked together on Why Can’t I Be a Dinosaur?, about a girl who knows just what she wants to wear to a wedding… and it’s not a dress!
How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth
Written by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Kate Hindley
Is your woolly mammoth splattered in mud and tangled with leaves? Is he less fragrant and grubby around the ears?
Washing a woolly mammoth can be hard work. But don’t worry! Just follow this step-by-step guide… and woolly mammoth washday will be fun for everyone!
Just don’t get soap in his eyes…
This is another humorous bathtime story. The child in the book takes the reader through a step-by-step guide for washing a woolly mammoth. This includes filling a bath tub, adding bubbles and scrubbing with a broom. Shampoo is also used. But “be CAREFUL not to get any in the mammoth’s… EYES!” If you do, you have to find a way to get it out of a tree! The illustrations add to the fun, especially the various ways of getting the mammoth into the bath and the different hairstyles created whilst shampooing.
Michelle Robinson has written a number of children’s picture books, such as There’s a Lion in My Cornflakes and The Forgetful Knight. As an illustrator, Kate Hindley has created both picture books and fiction books for children, including You Must Bring a Hat and The Royal Rabbits of London.
Pig the Grub
Written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey
Eww! What a stinker!
Pig isn’t just the world’s greediest Pug, he’s the DIRTIEST too. It’s high time he had a bath! But try telling Pig that…
Oh, how I love Pig the Pug! The world’s greediest pug is back again. Only this time, he is refusing to have a bath, despite being stinky and rotten. When the bath is run, he makes a dash for it. Grabbing his toy bone, he blocks up the tap and then dances around, saying, “You won’t get your soapy old water on me!” Of course the water pressure builds up behind the blockage and the bathroom explodes, the tap hitting Pig on the nose. So now, Pig has learnt his lesson and has a bath without complaining.
As well as the Pig the Pug collection, Aaron Blabey is responsible for other humorous picture books, much loved by children. These include Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas (but they do nibble bums!), Thelma the Unicorn and I Need a Hug. He has also created the very popular Bad Guys series, which features Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake and Mr. Piranha.
The Bath Monster
Written by Colin Boyd and illustrated by Tony Ross
Have you ever wondered where your dirty bath water goes? The Bath Monster slurps it up of course! It’s his second favourite food and no one wants to find out what his FIRST favourite food is…
This book is, obviously, about the Bath Monster, who lives under the bath tub and drinks the dirty water that goes down the plughole. Mum tells Jackson that it will get him if he doesn’t have a bath. Because he loves nothing better than getting dirty and muddy when playing with his friend, Dexter, Jackson needs a bath every night. However, he begins “to wonder if there really [is] a Bath Monster”. Then one day, when he refuses to have a bath, he finds out that there is! This is another fun bathtime book. The illustrations by Tony Ross are full of joy as the boys get muddy rolling down hills and climbing trees. And the Bath Monster is extremely hairy!
This is Colin Boyd’s debut book and how wonderful for him to work on it with Tony Ross, who is a legend in the world of children’s books. He has won numerous awards and illustrated both picture books, including the Dr Xargle series with Jeanne Willis and fiction books, such as the Horrid Henry series written by Francesca Simon.
Written and illustrated by Annie White
Clementine runs away to escape a bath. Not a BATH! thinks Clementine. She hides under the bed, behind the curtains and even in Baby’s toybox. Can her family find her in time to give her a bath?
Clementine the dog is pretty stinky as a result of rolling in the rubbish. Like Pig the Pug, she does not want to have a bath and she runs off to hide. But everywhere she goes, her smell gives her away. Trying to escape, she lands on a skateboard, gets catapulted through the air and lands… in the tub. Clementine soon discovers that baths aren’t so bad. You get more hugs when you smell good! This story has a similar theme to Smelly Louie, which was one of the books I chose for the More picture books about dogs list.
Annie White has created another book about Clementine: Clementine’s Walk. She has also beautifully illustrated a number of books, including Gallipoli, Beware the Deep Dark Forest and My Dad is a Bear.
The Pigeon Needs a Bath!
Written illustrated by Mo Willems
The pigeon is filthy! Do you think he should take a bath?
This book has the familiar theme of an animal needing a bath, but not wanting one. The pigeon from Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! is filthy. In conversation with the reader, he discovers that he smells, has flies buzzing around him and really does need a bath. There then follows multiple reasons why he can’t get in the water: too hot, too cold, too deep, not deep enough, too lukewarm, too wet, too reflective, not enough toys, too many toys… Finally the pigeon gets in and loves it! “Can I stay in the tub forever?” he asks, ten hours later. A wonderful book to share with children, along with the rest of the Pigeon series.
Mo Willems has written and illustrated many children’s books, including the Knuffle Bunny collection and the Elephant and Piggie series, which are ideal for early readers.
I hope you have a wonderful Read in a Bathtub Day tomorrow. Run a bath, grab a book and soak away your cares. Just try not to drop the book in the water!
Click on the book cover image to link to the source. Quotes taken from the blurb and content of the books.