Friday, October 12, 2012

A Stupendous Way to Get a Reader's Attention...

...is to talk about butts. I put this theory to the test during summer reading rallies last May, when I visited elementary schools to talk about our summer reading program and to book talk a few titles. I was able to command the attention of a school of 500+ whenever I talked about state award nominee Pierre the Penguin for one simple reason: I said that, unfortunately, this particular penguin had no butt feathers. That's right, I said "butt." And those readers were sold.

That's why I love what Artie Bennett is doing with picture book non-fiction. He is meeting young readers where they are, talking about real giggle-inducing topics like butts and poop. And while those topics in and of themselves grab young readers' attention, the content of each book is interesting and informative.

The Butt Book came out in 2010, and it takes readers through the fascinating world of derrieres. Throughout the rhymed text, we learn a lot about butts: what they are called in other parts of the world; that snakes don't have them; the number of things we can do only because we have butts. Mike Lester's bright and comical illustrations add another dimension of delight to the thoroughly enjoyable book.

Bennett's most recent endeavor is titled Poopendous! Can you guess its subject matter? With the help of Professor Pip Poopdeck, readers learn a myriad of facts about feces. We learn different names for different types of poop, the fact that different animals produce different shapes of poop (it's cubes from wombats--who knew?!?), and--perhaps most excitingly--the diverse uses for poop: fertilizer, building material, animal identification. Bennett shares all sorts of tidbits about poop that are sure to stick with kids long after their giggles have died down. Mike Moran's cartoon-y illustrations only make the whole book more fun.

Both The Butt Book and Poopendous! share a remarkable amount of information in a format that absolutely captivates young readers. Bennett's use of rhyme is excellent; his stanzas flow and exude joviality in a manner that few writers since Dr. Seuss have truly mastered. Simply put, these books are a joy. Even better for teachers, librarians, and caregivers: they inform as well as entertain. I'm willing to bet these books will be a hit with almost any crowd you encounter.

P.S. Artie Bennett seems like a really awesome, hilarious guy. Mr. Schu interviewed him this summer; head over to Watch. Connect. Read. to see what he had to say.

1 comment:

  1. We're much more sophisticated in middle school... that's why Toilets of the World is so popular. *Sigh*

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