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Monday, August 20, 2012

Guest Post: Potty Humor by Rick Daley

I'm excited to have Rick Daley back on my blog, celebrating the release of his new middle grade novel, Rudy Toot-Toot. If you haven't seen Rick's MG Christmas novel, The Man in the Cinder Clouds, you should check that out too, but Rudy was actually the first MS of Rick's that I read. I'm not normally one to enjoy body humor, but Rudy charmed me. I told Rick at the time that it reminded me of a Tall Tale, like Paul Bunyan and Blue, with outrageous feats that just get bigger and bigger. Plus Rick's sense of humor is spot-on for middle grade. Today, Rick talks about why kids need books like Rudy, and why we should make room on our shelves for a hero that passes gas with superhuman talent! :)

Potty Humor
By Rick Daley

My kids are fascinated with potty humor, and I know they aren’t alone.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  Heck, it’s almost unavoidable.  Think about it: From infancy through age three or four, the potty is the primary focus of our kids’ lives…and our lives, as parents.  If you have kids, you understand this—potty training involves a lot of talking, encouragement, repetition, and celebration.  We ask our toddlers if they need to go to the bathroom every few minutes, and even then we are often too late…But when they poop on the potty the very first time we throw a ticker-tape parade and tell our friends and relatives, “My child uses the potty now!” with such pride that if the child had also won the Nobel peace prize, you’d still mention the potty first.

How can a young kid NOT become fascinated with potty humor, when it was such a focal point for their early life?

Then, once a child is potty trained, there’s a huge parental sigh of relief, and probably a toast and a few drinks to celebrate the end of diaper changing.  We want to flush the potty for good, and never hear another word about it from our children, because now they are Big Kids, and they don’t need to talk about that anymore, right?

Not really.  For a child, the end of potty training means the end of easy praise and constant attention.  They have a tough time reversing course.  Really, though, you can’t blame them, because potty training boils down to several years’ worth of classical conditioning, causing them to expect praise whenever they sit on the toilet.  Telling a child not to get excited about the potty is like telling Pavlov’s dogs not to drool at the bell anymore.

Some potty humor is needed; kids can’t quit cold turkey.  However, kids do have to learn their limits.  That’s part of the reason I’m proud to say my book, Rudy Toot-Toot, is filled with fart jokes…because the rest of the story is about a young boy exploring his limits, and ultimately finding the right place and the right time for a very unusual talent: Rudy Toot-Toot can fart like a super-hero.  It comes natural when you’re born on a bean farm. 

Rudy’s problem is that he can’t control the force or the timing of his blasts.  His farts get him into trouble at home and at school, and after one monstrous emission scares all the customers away from the family Bean Market, Rudy must find out how to use his talent to bring them back, or the bank will take away their home.

I’ve read this book in many elementary school classrooms, and the boys and girls laugh every time.  Rudy Toot-Toot gets their attention on page 1, which is key, but the best thing is that the story holds their attention through the big finale, which is so important at the age when chapter books are big scary things, like the books that grown-ups read.  And though the story is chock full of gratuitous gas, it also shows kids how important self-control is, in a way they can understand and laugh at.  If you have children grades K-5, Rudy Toot-Toot is a great way to get them reading.  Parents can even have fun reading it aloud to younger ones.  If you do, don’t hold back on the fart sounds, and your kids won’t hold back on their laughter.  After all, kids are never too old to laugh, and a child’s laughter is one of the best sounds, ever.

About the Author
Rick Daley lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife and two sons, and they all live with a neurotic schnauzer named Leo.

Rick is also the author of The Man in the Cinder Clouds, a gripping tale about Kris Kringle and how he came to be known as Santa Claus. It wasn't easy.

Rick's hobbies include cooking, playing guitar and bass, running, yoga, and wrestling great white sharks.

Just kidding about that last one.

11 comments:

  1. I can't help it, even at my age I can't resist potty humor! Rick, I can't wait till my grand babies are a little older and we can start reading this together! Great post--best wishes for you with this book. :)

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  2. I can attest to the fact that boys never get over potty humor. My boys will forever think stuff like that is funny! :) Congrats on the new release!

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  3. Great article, Rick! I hadn't really thought about why potty humor is so funny to kids, but I totally get it now... Congratulations on your newest book.

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  4. My eleven-year-old is gifted with the ability to burp on command. I consider it quite a talent, but not nearly as impressive as if she could fart on command. Someone should write that book.

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  5. Bridget- Me too, I laugh with the kids as we read.

    Laura- I think boys are wired that way. At least every guy I know is (young and old).

    Sharon- It was a profound AHA! moment when I figured it out, but it does make sense, doesn't it? I wonder if any child psychologists have ever done a formal study. That would be cool!

    Matthew- I have pondered the idea of a burping superstar for subsequent entries in the Rudy Toot-Toot world. My older sister taught me how to burp and say "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" when I was eleven. She is awesome. She just turned 50 and can still do it! Plus she's very pretty, you would never expect it out of her...

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  6. Take a touchy subject, but ones kids love and have fun with it while teaching a lesson in the background. Smart, Rick! Maybe you were a teacher in another life.

    Rick is one of my fave bloggers, and he makes sand art, too, when he's on vacation. He's supportive of other bloggers, and keeps us entertained. (Hi Rick!)

    Thanks for featuring Rick today, Susan.

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  7. Hi D.G.! And thanks so much for the kind words, that made my day!

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  8. I'm raising three boys, need I say more?

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  9. Ciara- Does that count your husband ;-) My wife has her hands full with me and our two sons...

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Erudite comments from thoughtful readers