Monday, August 11, 2008

I Like Green Eggs and Ham, Sam I Am

In an earlier post I discussed what I think is the unfortunate trend of books that cater to boys by basing themselves on potty humor. I still don't like them; I squash enough potty jokes each day to start sending the opposite message to the boys by giving them "parent-approved" reading material full of superheroes in underpants.

Nevertheless, when Kevin Bolger commented that I needed to stop picking on his book, Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger, I did as he suggested and read the except on his website. And I like the book. It's well-written. It's silly. It's funny. It's good.

So now what I don't understand is: why the farts? why the boogers? Why pander to children at all? One has laughed himself sick through several Roald Dahl books; last time I checked none of them had the word "poop" in the title. He loves Clarissa Claridge's Hiccup books, and the potty humor in them is also close to non-existent. Yes, kids (especially boys) love bathroom humor. And men in the 18 to 25 year old demographic love full frontal nudity in movies. But you don't have to resort to potty humor (or a potty title) to write a funny book, any more than you need full frontal nudity to make a sexy movie. So don't. And I think you'll find more people will read your book, not fewer. I suspect so anyway.


MoziEsmé said...

Well said. Some things get enough attention without needing to elevate their status via books . . .

kevin said...

Hi again,

THANK YOU for actually checking out my book. Very fair and conscientious of you!

I actually quite agree with you about the bounds of good taste, especially with what kids read in the classroom, and my point was that MY book is not really full of rude words and toilet humor, as one might naturally suppose from the title. But I guess you can't write a book called "Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger" and then complain about not being taken seriously by the critics!

Incidentally, Roald Dahl was WIDELY criticized in his day for what some prim and stuffy adults considered bad taste and ill manners. "The Twits" has some notably gross bits. And "THE BFG" has a chapter on "Whizzpoppers" that is probably the funniest fart bit in literature -- but it's hilarious precisely because it's NOT crude, but euphemistically couched in some of the most original wordplay in the kidlit canon. One of the funniest read-alouds ever!

THanks again for an interesting discussion!

Tari said...

Kevin - thank you!