Monday, September 10, 2018

What do they do with all that poo? By Jane Kurtz, illustrated by Allison Black

The science of poop seems to have been a popular theme in 2017 and of course it’s still garnering interest. Kids are interested in poop. This is just a thing.

This latest book on the odoriferous subject combines humor and science to present the science of poop to the youngest readers. In rhyming text, the story starts out with a series of animals and their digestive remains. “Giraffe poop looks like marbles as it drops a long, long way./Panda poop is full of bamboo. Pandas eat and poop all day.” After showing the poop of a number of animals, from bats to penguins, sloths to lions, the book pauses for a full spread asking “So what do zoos do with all of that poo?” The second half of the picture book is dedicated to where all that poop goes. Zookeepers, scientists, truck drivers, and gardeners, all in a variety of races and genders, shovel, compost, recycle, and dispose of all that poop. The book ends on a humorous note, with monkeys tossing their poop at the reader.

Each page, in addition to its simple, rhyming text in bold lettering has a longer paragraph in smaller text offering more information. So the main text reads “A wombat’s poo is cube-shaped, so it isn’t very roly.” While the longer text explains that wombats are territorial and how their droppings help them mark their territories. This is a format I have found very accessible to a wide range of audiences and readers and I’m always thrilled when I see the double levels of text like this.

The art is created in bright, bold digital images. The wombat is a rich golden brown, surrounded by a frame of her own square poop and set against a grass-green background. The scene of the mailman delivering poop samples to the scientists looks almost like a scene from a Little Golden Book, with bright, sharp images and lots of square and round packages and containers. This is echoed in the round and square poop samples as well. One of my favorite images shows worms working their way through the ground in a cut-away, underground scene. The top has a bright blue sky and some stylized zucchini plants while the bottom shows a rich mixture of compost, with smiling pink worms working their way through their tunnels, leaving behind little, round brown poos.

The only drawback is some confusion in the final scene. Indeterminate monkeys (with tails) are shown throwing poop and the additional paragraph explains that chimpanzees with the best-aimed poop are “the smartest and most sociable”, suggesting poop-throwing as a step towards using tools. Chimpanzees are apes, not monkeys, and don’t have tails. Also, I’m pretty sure they do use tools. Despite this quibble, it’s overall a well-researched and fun book, age-appropriate and not too gross despite its chosen subject.

Verdict: A delightful and informative choice for a poop-themed storytime (go on, I dare you!), classroom use, or hilarious one-on-one reading. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781481479868; Published June 19, 2018 by Beach Lane Books; Review copy provided by Blue Slip Media; Donated to the library

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