Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Book Review Club (February)

I am excited to be a part of Barrie Summy's new Book Review Club. When I first signed on, I had such high hopes for myself. "I'll wow them all," I thought. "I'll be both funny and insightful. I'll review War and Peace like it's never been done before!"

Now, I've never actually read War and Peace. Not even the Cliff's Notes version. I'm not proud of that, but I'm not too ashamed to admit it, either. And what did a little detail like that matter, anyway? The first review wasn't for ages. It was days and days away! Blink. It's today.

And the book I've spent the most time reading this week is Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel.

There are different versions of this classic tome, and I'll be talking about the one we have, the Girl version, complete with matching Prudence doll, her plastic potty, and an accompanying DVD.

When Ellie was about 18 months old, she developed a great interest in the potty and her developmental therapist recommended this book. Ellie loved the book from our first read through, and still requests it regularly nearly 4 years later. She was, however, completely creeped out by the weird-looking Prudence doll for quite a while so we substituted a beanie Dora the Explorer on the plastic potty. She loved that, and the DVD was an even greater hit.

But this is supposed to be a book review, right? Ellie immediately "got" this book, and wanted to keep it right next to her potty chair to read every time we were in the bathroom. Which, as you might imagine, was frequently. Her favorite part was the page where Prudence sat on the potty. "And sat and sat and sat and sat." 77 times. Even now, as a five-year-old, she's happy to sit on the toilet as long as it would take her to sound out the words "and sat" 77 times. I'm not kidding; I counted. 77. I've certainly had ample opportunity to do the math.

Now Ellie has a little sister who just turned two and is very interested in all things potty-related, including this book. Fortunately, Ada prefers me to truncate the "and sat and sat and sat" page. She likes the next page more, where Prudence stands up and sees what's inside the potty. Both "Wee-Wee and Poo-Poo!"

As we all know, a good picture book tells a story in both words and pictures, where the illustrations work as hard as the text to convey meaning. This book is no exception. It's just that I'm not quite clever enough to have figured out what Frankel was trying to illustrate with her drawing of "poo-poo."

Ada gets the whole potty concept, in theory and in practice (if somewhat inconsistently). But she studies this one illustration with her head cocked to the side, then looks up at me. "Ice cream?" she says. Now that she draws (hah hah) this to my attention, I see that she does have a valid point. (Ah-hem) It's just that now whenever we read this book - a mere 2-3 times a day - I sort of want to vomit 2/3 of the way through.

The whole time I've been writing this - and for entire months of the last few years - I've had the fabulous little jingle from the DVD stuck in my head. Because I think you'd enjoy the same experience, here it is. My gift to you: The Potty Song

Final thought: highly recommended! A very good read. Appeals to all ages.


  1. You are hilarious! And insightful! And I've been tripping down memory lane because I used this book--the girl version-- with Child #4 (my only daughter). Truly a review that will wow!!

  2. LOL - I love your humor!! Great job!

  3. Too funny! My first son is only a year old, but I'll have to keep this book in mind. I can't wait to hear your review on "War and Peace" next month ...

  4. Barrie, if only it were a review that could potty train children! Now, THAT would be useful.

    Epic Rat, I cannot figure out why she drew "poo-poo" like a pile of brown soft-serve. I suspect that I shouldn't think about it too much. And, thank you for the disturbing video. I am almost more embarrassed to admit that I've seen it before than I was to admit that I've not read War and Peace.

    Thanks, Kathy!

    D.A., will Visualize Whirled Peas suffice instead, do you think? It's a t-shirt slogan at Northern Sun, and I think I could manage to read and review it given 4 weeks lead time. ;)