Book Flight: Farts

Yep, we’re going there!  We thought we’d kick off the New Year with a silly book flight sure to get even the most reluctant readers reading and giggling.

The best part is, it’s not just joke-y books.  These are really interesting, funny and (mostly) well written books that just about everyone can both relate to and find pretty darn funny and enjoyable.

Have fun!

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Family Read-aloud

Fartiste by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, illustrated by Boris Kulikov

The antics and performances of  Joseph Pujol, the “Fartiste,”  had all three generations in our family doubled over laughing.  Grandpa Jim had tears rolling down his face, and Molly pranced about pretending to be a “fartiste” herself.  This true story of Pujol, a performer from France at the end of the 19th century, documents his rise to fame as he learned to control his intestines to the point where he became a sensation at the famed Moulin Rouge for his “symphonic farting.”  The crowd went crazy when he got on the stage and started farting. He could sneeze, make animal sounds and blast off like dynamite. He could even perform Beethoven and Mozart! People laughed so hard that nurses were stationed in the aisles to assist people who passed out. Boris Kulikov’s illustrations are perfect –they capture the vaudeville style of performance, with exaggerated eye rolls, and of course, little puffs of gas strategically placed.  Another plus for the book–it’s written in well-rhymed couplets that add to the performance of reading aloud.  The perfect introduction to a book flight on farting.

Infant, Toddler, and Pre-School

The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts by Shinta Cho

Here is a book for the little ones  (available as a board book for the really young!) both informative and entertaining.  The tone is hard to describe–straight forward and non-judgemental, but also written as a kind of quirky ode to the joy of gas.  Almost a celebration of the noble art of farting.  And who knew that people fart out over two cups of gas in one day?!  It’s pretty amazing  that scientists can even calculate farts and their measurements.

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Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray, illustrated by Audrey Colman

Walter is a dog who farts.  Big, stinky farts.  In fact, they are so bad that dad decides Walter has to go – until somehow his farts manage to save the day.  It’s silly.  It’s delightful.  And everyone in the family will giggle as Walter reminds them of someone, because every family has the champion gas-passer.  Can’t get enough Walter?  You’re not alone and you are in luck!  Because everyone liked Walter, his adventures continue: at the beach, the yard sale, on a cruise…  A perfect book for a young reluctant reader, or for someone who is more interested in bedtime playing than bedtime books.  Start reading this book and all toys will be abandoned as they creep closer to hear about Walter.

Early Reader and Tween

Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder by Jo Nesbo, illustrated by Mike Lowery

Lisa and her friend Nilly are unlikely heroes.  Lisa is one lonely little girl, in her Oslo, Norway home, since her best–and only– friend has moved.  Nilly has the potential to become a new companion, but he’s so, well, little.  Author Nesbo says he isn’t just small–he’s tiny:  “The only things big on his face were his freckles.”  NIlly and Lisa do prevail in this terrific book, with the help of their wacky inventor neighbor, Dr. Proctor, who has invented some very cool potions, like powder that makes you fluorescent green and his amazing Farting Powder.  The regular every-day powder just makes you fart ( and it doesn’t even smell!).  But the fartonaut strength actually rockets you up to the sky!    Such a well-written book, by a favorite Norwegian crime writer, Jo Nesbo.  It’s great fun–and the adventures they have with the evil–and no so bright–twins who bully them will have young readers eagerly turning pages.  Not much toilet humor and surprisingly lyrical writing.  There’s even a sequel:  Dr.Proctor’s Fart Powder:  Bubble in the Bathtub.  Cliff-hanging chapter endings make it a great read-aloud, too.

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Sweet Farts by Raymond Bean

Any Wimpy Kid fans in the house?  This is a sure-fire hit.  Truthfully, it’s not the best written book out there.  But it is funny and charming, and you can’t help but root for Keith to come out on top, and you also can’t help but learn a little.  When Keith gets blamed for a stinky fart in the classroom (he didn’t do it) his nickname becomes ‘S.B.D’ (Silent But Deadly).  Couple that with the fact that he can’t think of a science fair project, and you end up with a solution that helps him out with both problems – he’ll invent a cure for the smelliness of gas.  And since Benjamin Franklin playfully suggested looking for that same solution, the project is heartily endorsed by his principal.  Can he do it?  The denouement is a little fast and unbelievable, but neatly sets up the sequel.

YA and Adult

Who Cut the Cheese:  A Cultural History of the Fart  and Blame It on the Dog: A Modern History of the Fart by Jim Dawson

It’s hard to decide which of these two volumes to recommend by noted (ahem) fartologist and historian Jim Dawson.  So we’ve decided to go with both!  In the first book, Who Cut the Cheese, he sets the tone for his writing, which is both side-splitting hilarious–and quite scholarly at the same time.  Though you really should read both books if your tastes run in this direction, I prefer (Ruth here) Blame It On the Dog, with the personal habits of celebrities (who could resist the stories about Johnny Depp and Stephen King, to name just a couple), animal farting habits (like farting fish!), and real-life fartistes like flatomusicologist Flatulina Fontanelle Boutier, cyberspace entertainer the Queen of Farts?   Horrible (read hilarious) puns are on almost every page.  A terrific book to share with friends of all ages!

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Fart Proudly: The Writings of Benjamin Franklin

In Sweetfarts, our hero learns that Benjamin Franklin, founding father and brilliant scientist and inventor, wasn’t above questioning the problem of the “fetid smell” the body can produce when digesting our common food.  It’s true!  Though his “Letter to the Royal Academy” was actually written in jest as a response to the pretentious Royal Academy of Brussels call for scientific papers, it is nonetheless a brilliant piece of satire.  Though “passed” among his friends, it was largely left out of published collections of his work.  However, in this fun volume, much of his satirical and humorous essays are gathered together.  While this letter to the academy is wonderful, my personal favorite (Meghan here) is the essay “On Choosing a Mistress.” While the whole book makes you laugh outloud, it simultaneously whets your appetite for more of Franklin’s other writings.  It also sets the stage for teens who have not yet had the joy or reading other satirists like Swift and Pope.

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