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Review: Potty Animals by Hope Vestergaard

Potty Animals: What to Know When You’ve Gotta Go!
By Hope Vestergaard
Illustrated by Valeria Petrone
Sterling
ISBN: 9781402759963
$14.95
Grades PreK-2
In Stores March 2, 2010

*Best New Books*

The landscape of books about etiquette is pretty desolate. For every solid contribution, like the recent Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant there are what seems like a thousand uninspired rule rundowns. So when a good one comes along, it’s all the more important to hold onto. I don’t know if I can be much clearer than this: Potty Animals should be PreK-2nd grade required reading. And I don’t say this based solely on the information contained within, but because of the entertaining, interactive, and successful way it’s delivered.

Through spry rhyming text, we are introduced to the students of Sycamore Elementary. This varied collection of animals act out every conceivable bathroom issue that youngsters face, as the narrator describes each situation. Readers are encouraged to tell the animals what they should do, and each two page spread ends with a line (such as “Wilbur, always wash with soap!”) to be read together. The last page contains a list of these “read together” phrases.

It seems odd, but I think readers will be transfixed. There’s something about seeing a kid make the wrong choice that makes other younsters take notice. The fact that these choices pertain to a subject that is a bit taboo only increases the interest.

The field of digital illustration continues to surprise. Here the artwork comes across as created with a brush and paint, not the colorform-esque images often associated with the computer-aided medium. The results are pretty eye-catching.

It’s a pleasant surprise to read an etiquette book for young readers that exceeds expectations, and that’s what this one did. You know a lower elementary teacher? How about the parent of a child in that age group? You’ll be making a good move by picking this one up for them. Don’t hesitate to add it to your library collection.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.

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