How quickly we forget the stresses of early child rearing! Toilet-training my toddlers seemed monumental and endless, but I’ve never forgotten how comedic books lightened the mood. Three new board books with potty humor can provide a little laughter to ease the stress.
Leslie Patricelli’s “Potty” (Candlewick, ages 18 months-3 years) features a character who stars in more than 10 board books the toddler set knows and loves. This gender-neutral baby, despite Patricelli’s simple drawings, expresses emotions eloquently. Somehow the one curl of hair springing from the baby’s head adds to the bouncy characterization and humor.
“I have to go potty,” begins this board book, and an illustration shows the toddler in the classic desperation pose. In three sequential pages, the toddler expresses her thoughts and works out her feelings on some of life’s earliest existential questions: “I could go in my diaper. Should I go in my diaper? I don’t want to.” The baby examines how the dog and cat take care of matters, and apparently the lengthy observations of these animals lead to urgency. “I really have to go!” the toddler says, and this familiar phrase is accompanied by illustrations that show the characteristic dance that signals extreme need.
Throwing caution and her diaper to the wind, the baby sits on a potty seat and is finally rewarded with “Tinkle, tinkle, toot.” One can almost hear the triumph in “I did it!” This success is followed by a toilet-paper-waving victory parade with the parents. The last page, decorated with colorful underwear, leaves room for a discussion of the occasion’s probable outcome. Patricelli’s most recent book, “Toot” (Candlewick), a prequel of sorts, is just as funny, thorough and apt.
Todd Parr’s “Animals in Underwear” (Little Brown Kids, ages 18 months-3 years) takes the typical reward of wearing “big girl/boy pants” to extremes. “Animals, animals everywhere – from A to Z in their underwear!” crows the first page. There follows 26 silly, brightly-colored illustrations of animals from alligator to yak clad in ridiculous undergarments. In the end, the multicolored zebra goes pantless, and in a final coda, a dog wears underpants on his head. The developmental aptness of this book is clear; a toilet-training child who can proudly sing the” ABC song” and likes to identify animals will certainly laugh at these goofy role models.
Janee Trasler’s “Pottytime Chickies” (Harper, ages 18 months-3 years) introduces three toilet-training chicks with a repertoire of wild antics. “We know what the potty’s for,” the trio insists throughout. But as soon as that bathroom door closes, they splash in the toilet bowl, throw toilet paper, turn towels into trampolines and drive the adults (represented by a lamb, sheep and pig) crazy. The “adults” have their own version of the chickies’ repeated rejoinder. Each time they clean up, they scold, “Potty time is not for that.” Eventually, however, the chickies are successful and the adults celebrate them as the feathered three take a bow.