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Review of The Saddest Toilet in the World

The Saddest Toileapple_saddesttoilett in the World
by Sam Apple; illus. by Sam Ricks
Preschool     Aladdin/Simon     32 pp.
6/16     978-1-4814-5122-2     $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-5123-9     $10.99

Potty training is serious business for all involved, but what of the unsung toilet? Does anyone consider its feelings? Apple and Ricks do just that in this laugh-out-loud respite from charts, rewards, and accidents. Young Danny isn’t ready to pee in the potty, despite his parents’ gentle encouragement. The thin-skinned toilet, feeling unloved and unappreciated, packs its plunger in a suitcase and heads dejectedly out into the night. The next morning Danny is willing, but “there’s only one problem”…and mother and son embark on a frantic search for their AWOL bathroom fixture. Ricks’s cartoon illustrations show the two looking “in all the wrong places”; the visibly relaxed toilet, however, seems to be enjoying its touristy foray into what appears to be New York City. A chance meeting on the subway leads to a tentative rapprochement and eventually back home to the bathroom, where Danny immediately sits on the potty for an inaugural pee: “I’ve never felt so happy!” the toilet gushes. The potty humor flows freely in Ricks’s expressive digital illustrations (e.g., the toilet views Duchamp’s Fountain sculpture; its subway stop is Flushing Meadows). Apple’s restrained text helps the preposterous scenario float. A celebratory roller coaster ride nods to the ups-and-downs of this rite of passage and hints at challenge number two (get it?). Reluctant potty-goers might be encouraged to hit the head after this ridiculous adventure.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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