Monday, 3 June 2013

Harvey, the Boy who Couldn't Fart

Ah, fart humour. It’s the most risqué of humours among the under ten set; it appeals to small children (my son giggles every time he does a “bottom burp”), pre-schoolers, kids in primary school. It’s a staple of adult comedy, too – watch a few comedy blockbuster previews in a row and you’re bound to find at least one making fun with farts.

This year, we've reissued Matthew Johnstone’s farty fun picture book Harvey, the Boy Who Couldn’t Fart.

Everyone can fart. Everyone except Harvey. No matter how hard Harvey tries, he can’t manage even a squeak.

Fart humour goes way back – according to academics at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK, the world’s oldest joke is a Sumerian proverb dating back to 1900 BC. (Shakespeare also made a few flatulence jokes in his day, as did a few other notables, including Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain and Aristophanes.)

The best fart humour I’ve found, though, is when sharing a story like Harvey, the Boy Who Couldn’t Fart with children. Unlike adults, kids have no shame or embarrassment replicating the sounds in the story; the unease that is so often paired with the ewww factor in grown-ups is completely absent. Even better, any book which has kids engaged – because who isn’t engaged by a loud FWAAAAARP every now and then? – is likely to interest even reluctant readers. And such humour also opens the door for talking about embarrassment, and being able to cope with a didn’t-quite-make it accident or other issue.

So why not curl up with a book and make a bit of noise? FWAAAARP!

Text and illustrations © 2010 Matthew Johnstone. All rights reserved.

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