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