Sunday, 5 October 2014

Guest blog post + review: Mr Super Poopy Pants! by Rebecca Elliott (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

June 2014, Lion Children's, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Content: lots of poop, a laugh on every page! 

Summary from Lion Hudson
Toby was looking forward to all the adventures he would have with his new baby brother. BUT… Benjy can’t run around, invent gadgets or fight crime…He just poops. All the time. Can Toby learn to love his little brother all the same?

Nayu's thoughts
I laughed when I saw the cover, and I laughed on every single page of this adorable book. I think it captures a new baby through a child's eyes, because let's face it, babies do poop a lot. It can really smell, and do all sorts of gross things at unexpected moments, as is proven in the book. But there is more to babies than poop, as Toby discovers. I liked how the expectations Toby had of the new baby didn't pan out quite how he hoped. 

Rebecca's bright, cute and funny illustrations say more than the text can on it's own. They have me rereading the book more than once just because they make me laugh and the expressions are priceless. I especially love Clemmie! She's a sweetheart in the book, and in real life too - read Rebecca's post below for details.

Find out more on Rebecca's website

Suggested read
Another funny read by Rebecca is Naked Trevor (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

Guest Blog Post from Rebecca

Nayu here! I'm thrilled to have Rebecca explain why she's written Mr Super Poopy Pants! and what she wants to see more of in children's books. I totally agree with her. 
Rebecca with her children, including Clemmie who has lovely long hair!

Bears and mice having a cuddle. In today’s climate this is how a lot of children’s publishers are playing it safe at the moment – by publishing books about bears and mice having yet another ruddy cuddle. Now I’m all for cute cuddly children’s books, as a picture book writer and illustrator I’ve had a hand in my fair share, but I’m also increasingly coming to the opinion that by solely publishing soppy durge we underestimate children and restrict their natural interest in the world around them. Even little children have worries and questions that they want to talk about. Why are people adopted? Why is my friend a different colour? Why is Grandad poorly? Why do some people have just one mummy, or two daddies? Why do people go to different churches? Why is Mummy having another baby? Why are some people in wheelchairs? And so on, and so on. And I think a little more of the literature aimed at kids could reflect some of their questions and allow them to explore the answers in a fun and frank way.

And so I’ve tried to at least introduce a few of these topics in my books. I’m lucky to have found a publisher in Lion Children’s Books who are more keen to push the boundaries a little and they have allowed me to write about adoption in Zoo Girl, conservation and eco issues in The Last Tiger, disability and child’s health issues in Just Because and Sometimes and now the introduction of a new sibling in the family (and a lot of stinky poop) in Mr Super Poopy Pants. Future books with them will be covering the death of a pet and starting a new school. First and foremost, of course, children’s books should be fun, funny and an all-round good read and certainly with no “And little Jimmy learnt how to share after all” message at the end of the story as children can smell a moral a mile off. But surely sometimes you can have fun and funny alongside important and relevant?

Clemmie in Mr Super Poopy Pants!
So why did I start writing picture books about something other than bears and mice having a cuddle? It was the birth of my first muse, my darling Clementine, who was born with profound mental and physical disabilities and the realization that disability, particularly, is woefully unrepresented in children’s literature. Considering the fact that 1 in 20 children in the UK have a disability it is astonishing and disgraceful that disability is so seldom represented in children’s books.

And so I wrote the books ‘Just Because’ and ‘Sometimes’ about Clementine and her relationship with her little brother Toby which is effortlessly funny, fun and touching –all the ingredients of a good picture book. Clemmie has been such a positive influence on our lives and I wanted to share that positivity in a world where severe disability is normally represented as a hugely negative and sad thing. And children are so open to discussing it – if they meet Clemmie or hear the story they want to ask questions – why is she like this? What can she do? How does her ‘magic belly tube’ work? How fast can her chair go? Whilst their parents normally cringe behind them or subtly tell them to ‘shut up’ through a sheepish fixed grin. And I wonder - what happens between that questioning innocent child and the embarrassed awkward parent? These questions are great and should be encouraged but by silencing them we’re teaching our children that this is an awkward situation that is best avoided. Children are naturally open-minded, unprejudiced and ready to soak up the world like a sponge so perhaps we and the literature aimed at them could do a little more to make sure they soak up the right stuff!?

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