Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Toilet humour: Yes or No? (Part 1)

Love them or hate them, you can guarantee that toilet humour books will get kids (yes, boys and girls shrieking with laughter and clamouring "Just one more time..."

If you're anything like my husband, you'll be right in the thick of it, eeking out the laughs and maximising the fun of the story by holding an obligatory competition to see who can make the longest and rudest toilet noise (and even bringing Alexa in on the act).

On the other hand, if you're anything like my mother, you'll be holding the book disdainfully away from you and threatening to stop reading at the next page turn if things get any worse, which of course makes it even more hysterically funny for the kids.

In our house it's me that holds the murky middle ground when it comes to this category of picture books. Would I rather they choose something else to enjoy before bedtime? At the beginning of our reading journey, I would have said yes. Now, I'm not so sure. For one, there's something wonderful about seeing three siblings giggling and bonding over a book, however outlandish. Secondly, they often provide exactly what I need- a right good laugh! And, if I can enjoy that laugh with my children, when I spend so much time playing the harassed mediator then so much the better.

I think the key question when it comes to toilet humour books, as with any book, is does it tell a good story alongside the jokes? The examples I have included below explore this further.

I've been told several times on the book community grapevine, that some (but certainly not all) publishers are actively looking for or commissioning authors to write toilet humour books. This really interested me as usually picture books need to hold some appeal to adult readers, as well as the child, in order to persuade them to buy the book. Could this mean then that a child's enthusiasm for this type of book can overrule adult preference? Or are most adult purchasers firmly in the camp of my husband? Or is it that they, like me, are swept up by their child's excitement for a story and give in to buying it, knowing that it will probably provide us with a secret giggle?

Whatever the reason, toilet humour clearly sells. Below are some of the toilet humour tales that have floated into our house across the last few years:

The Dinosaur that Pooped series by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter

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There's no getting away from it! The toilet humour in this series is about as in your face as you can get and the winner of our household toilet humour awards. Starting with The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas, it soon became an explosively (pun intended) successful series penned by the just as successful McFly band members. 
The fact that the tales are told in rhyme add to the rollicking fun of each story. The rhythm and language set up the scenes to give the punchline maximum impact. Mention The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas to my autistic daughter and she is bound to give a delighted giggle before reciting her favourite lines:
"And last but not least and never forgotten, Granny plopped out of the dinosaur's bottom."  
(At this point my mum would leave the room.)
If you let go of  appropriateness and give yourself up to the story, this series undoubtedly provides a lot of laughs. Each tale is entertaining, despite following a similar pattern. The Christmas one is  disgustingly hilarious and the one we (yes, even me) look forward to pulling out the Christmas box every year.
What does niggle me though, particularly as aspiring writer of rhyming stories, is the number of times half rhymes, and sometimes a blatant non-rhyme slips into these tales. Obviously, exceptions are made for high ranking and highly profitable authors, but in places it just feels sloppy.
Do my kids notice? No! Does it spoil the outrageous naughtiness of the story? No! But it is noticeable to the reader. Nonetheless, these stories are marmite and I have to admit that I am now a converted fan.


The Great Dog Bottom Swap by Peter Bently and Mei Matsuoka



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There are no other words for it other than naughty and hilarious! This toilet humour book, again told beautifully in rhyme, is one of a kind and, according to Peter Bently himself, was inspired by a short, jokey folktale.
Unlike the Dinosaur that Pooped series above, I think this story could work just as well in prose as in verse. The plot is so unique that once read it will never be forgotten. It even made my mum chuckle!
The toilet humour in this book is still naughty but more subtle that other toilet humour books. There's no great piles of poo and mess, just neat little bottom o's that, unfortunately, get muddled at the dog's summer ball. 
This was Peter Bently's third published book and he has gone on to become a full-time children's writer known particularly for humorous rhyming stories (although he also writes across other genres too). Check out his new toilet humour book below.

Princesses don't Parp! by Peter Bently and Eric Heyman

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Uh-oh! It seems everyone at the palace has a parping problem but not the princess of course! With a Royal Visitor is on his way, the princess is desperate to cover up the embarrassing secret before it literally leaks out.
This, again, is a more in-your-face toilet humour book than the one above but is pure light-hearted, laugh-out-loud entertainment for those that are up for leaping in and letting go. Be prepared to parp, poot and trump your way through every brilliantly illustrated page.

Dog Did It! by Lynne Garner and Mike Brownlow

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A simple tale about a little troll whose love of  worm porridge makes him stinky. Not wanting to give up his favourite food, he devises a plan to blame the smell on his dog.
There is a play on the old Aesops Fable, Peter and the Wolf in this story about telling fibs and getting caught out in the end. However, it is done in a very light-hearted and fun way.
The structure is simple and suitable for younger children and this is the first book included in this post that is written in prose. What made this book different (and gave us the most laughs) was the outlandish words Garner uses for 'fart'. There is no parp, toot or trumpet in sight but rather 'smelly blampfs' and 'flappy whoofs'.
There is no wider story to carry this tale along. It is purely about a smelly troll that blames it on the dog. This made it feel a bit forced. It's a toilet humour book for the sake of toilet humour and not added in because it makes another story funnier. Still, both the stories and illustrations are cute and we will definitely remember this one for the unique language.


Robo-Snot by Amy Sparkes and Paul Cherrill

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We're moving to the upper end in this hilarious and colourful (mainly green) rhyming tale. 
When Little Robot starts to sneeze, he's introduced to the world of snot. But there's no where for it to go and he doesn't know what to do with it.
This story teaches children a valuable lesson on the correct way to deal with snot but takes us on a wildly entertaining adventure in doing so. Just when you think the story is going to wrap up, Amy Sparkes cranks it up, adding another exciting twist and turn to Little Robot's journey.
This book leaps off the shelves to children. The colours, the robot, the snot and the title would have both my son and my daughters clamouring for it instantly.  (My girls have enjoyed all the above toilet humour stories as equally as my son has, and he was as equally into the princess story as they were.) It is a story you can enjoy at any age if you're not too squeamish, although you might want to bring a tissue!

This blog does not take any credit for any images or quotations used in the post. All images have been taken from and linked to 'Goodreads' website, who provide a wider range of reviews and links to available online retailers. 

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