How to Teach Children to Manage Big Emotions with Silly Stories. Book review: Toby and Clemmie Books by Rebecca Elliott

Mr Super Poopy Pants and My Stinky New School by Rebecca Elliott

We received these books to review by Lion Hudson PLC. Thank you very much!

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My kids aren’t too enthusiastic about so-called therapeutic stories for children. There’s a separate shelf for that kind of literaturę in our library, decorated with paper flowers; Andrés and Michał find it “girly” and “boring”.

Honestly, how can a loud, energetic, toilet humour-loving 5 year old listen for 20 minutes to a long, descriptive story of a sensitive girl who rants for 5 pages about how doesn’t like her new school because other girls are mean? Andres gave up after the first  description of a traumatic event when the main character was told that her hair accessories are lame.  Long authors’ explanations about the characters’ emotions do not do the trick for my kids, either.

My boys assume that life is too short for boring books, crafts and activities and this is why I’ll never become a top parenting blogger who writes reviews of “super exciting” wooden multiplication trays or “life-changing” experience with hand cleaning wipes.

Well, can a book with the word “poopy” or “stinky” on the cover be boring for a little boy? And can it be used to discuss “big” emotions, like fear of new school or arrival of a new baby in the family?

When the parcel with the books from Lion Hudson arrived, Andres and Michał opened it enthusiastically and as usual were a little disappointed that the parcel did not contain any Lego blocks. However, as soon as I read aloud “Mr. Super Poopy Pants”, they started to laugh histerically and they asked me to read them the whole book immediately.

Recommended age? I would say 3-8. The books are also apt for young English learners because the language is simple and beautiful illustrations help children to understand the meaning of the story.

Both books belong to Toby and Clemmie series, in which the author describes their own children. And as the author states on her website, while the books from the series are “first and foremost funny, sweet picture books”, they also introduce big themes to children. You can read more about this series on the author’s website:

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Mr Super Poopy Pants depicts the arrival of a new baby in a family in a frank and funny way. Toby, the older brother-to-be believes that the baby is going to have super powers and both of them will live fantastic adventures together. To his disappointment, it turns out that Baby Ben can only poop! No matter how hard Toby tries to teach him to talk, it’s impossible.

However, with time Toby discovers that Baby Ben has his own powers…poopy powers! The Submarine Poop can make the boys’ bath funny when Dad gets into panic. The Waterfall Poop enables them to leave a boring party quickly.

Andres and Michał laughed through the whole story and “Mister Poopy Pants” became the new favourite nickname in our house. The book did wonders for the boys’ grammar skills since they learned to differentiate between “you are mister poopy pants” and “(X) is mister poopy pants). I loved that the book depicts Toby’s sister Clemmie with a disability as “awesome” in her brother’s eyes. He states frankly that it’s not a problem that neither of his siblings can talk; he can talk for all of them!

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Storytime with lots of smiles
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New vocabulary: he dribbles, he purps, he burps…and he poops!

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The Ghost Poop! It’s so funny!

I can recommend this story for all little children who expect new siblings as it describes a relationship between a young child and a baby brother in a funny, realistic way without the stereotypical plot of a child who feels unhappy  about the baby arrival, but then  helps with the baby care and immediately falls in love with his new brother/sister. In Mister Super Poopy Pants there aren’t detailed descriptions of feeding or baby sleep routine, nor lovey-dovey dialogues about “my cute baby brother”. Simple dialogues and silly poop jokes are much more appealing to children.

my stinky new school

In my New Stinky School Toby is unhappy to go to his new school, which, in his own words, “will stink of ogre armpits and pigeon poop”. He finds it’s not fair at all that he has to go to that school while  his brother and sister attend schools they love, which “smell of paint, chocolate and rainbows”.

On the first day of school Toby meets an alien, a pirate, a mermaid and a dinosaur expert, he gets advice on where to eat his “moon cheese sandwich” or where to go if he needs “an astro poop”, but he still can’t find new friends. However, at the end of the day his mum helps him to realize that the children he met throughout the day are his new friends. Toby still thinks that his school stinks….but “it stinks of moon, cheese, burried treasure and dinosaurs….and I LOVE it”.

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Even Michał, whose English is very basic, could point at the right characters in the pictures.
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Astro poop: another favourite nickname in our house.

 

This funny and charming story is perfect for children who feel scared to go to a new school and I will definitely add it to my list of activities for the first day of school.  The boys loved silly, bright illustrations and Toby’s hilarious descriptions.

As a multicultural mum and blogger, I particularly appreciate the fact that the illustrations depict a school for children with special needs (Clemmie’s school) and children from different ethnic groups.

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While the boys laughed a lot while reading that story and made comments on how their schools stink, I could also see that they felt identified with Toby’s feelings. When I read that Toby was sad because he didn’t have friends, Michał looked worried and asked if we could invite him home.

Like in Mr Super Poopy Pants, the problem is depicted in a funny and unconventional way. In most stories about starting a new school a child doesn’t want to enter the classroom, then on the first day makes new friends, has fun in the classroom and goes back home smiling and looking forward to the next day.  The fantasy tale that involves things that children love: dinosaurs, pirates and space adventures, is more engaging and fun for young readers.

We are looking forward to reading more books from Toby and Clemmie series. Do you have favourite books that help children to understand and manage their emotions?

 

 

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