I've been reading a book to my older son recently that has me asking myself a lot of questions. He's about to turn 6, and like all little boys, finds toilet humour utterly hilarious. So, when I saw a book in the library that other day called The Day My Bum Went Psycho, I had to get it for him. Usually when I choose a chapter book to read to him, I pick something I liked as a kid. We've read through Roald Dahl, large chunks of Beverly Cleary and, most recently, Emil and the Detectives.
This Bum book is something of an unchartered journey.
It is completely absurd. From the very first page, where the premise was set up, I was shaking my head in wonder. How does a book like that get published? How does the author get anyone to take him seriously when he asks for critiques? If something like this showed up in one of my review groups, I wouldn't know how to review it. I'd think the author was playing with me, that the whole thing was a joke.
But this book is real. And even more amazing, there are two sequels, both of which my son is amping to get to next. When you get right down to the nitty gritty, there is nothing much that makes this book any different to hundreds of other adventure type stories for young boys. It's just the villains are bums that have escaped and want to take over the world. Or at least the place where peoples' heads currently live.
With references to poo and farting on almost every page, and an utterly vile description of a volcanic pimple on one of the large, smelly bums, this book is not for those easily offended. But for six year olds? It's perfect. I find myself looking forward to reading him the next chapter because he takes such obvious delight in every rude noise, fart joke and reference to the hero's self-wiping false bum. If this is what it takes to get little boys to read, well, I'm glad the author managed to find a critique group to take his off the wall premise seriously enough to help him out.
I'm just glad it wasn't mine.