Aaron Blabey
Scholastic Australia 2017
ISBN: 9781743812389
Age: 3+

Reviewed by Cath Young

Busting tells the story of a small creature called Lou, who is ‘busting’ to go to the toilet.  Lou needs to find a bathroom and encounters various obstacles on this quest including a queue and a kicking kangaroo.

The story’s rhyming structure and repetition emphasises the humour of Lou’s dilemma, building a sense of urgency and ending in a joke where readers are led to predict a ‘rude’ word which rhymes with loo, (which is actually not used, thereby furthering the joke through unmet expectations). It is a light-hearted look at a common situation that must befall all children as they master toileting skills. Its humour normalises and highlights the bodily sensations and frustrations found in using a toilet in public places. The illustrations are bright, bold and cartoon-like. They depict various animals in human situations such as waiting for the toilet or sitting in a café. The expressions on the struggling Lou are exaggerated and hilarious. There is a lot for children to relate to in Lou’s story, from adults not understanding the urgency of their plight to the relief found when the task is accomplished.  

Dinosaur vs the Potty

Bob Shea
Disney-Hyperion: 2011
ISBN: 9781423133391
Age: 3+

Reviewed by Viv Young

Dinosaur does not want to use the potty. ‘Roar,’ he says, and goes about his day attempting a series of challenges, each involving liquids which he often consumes (e.g. Dinosaur versus making lemonade). After each challenge Dinosaur ‘wins’ and still does not need to use the potty. Until he does need to use the potty, very quickly…

For kids in the process of toilet learning this cute and funny book might get out some of the angst involved with stopping their play to sit on the potty. The characterisation of the Dinosaur is reminiscent of a human toddler—sweetly ferocious and determined! The illustrations and overall design make great use of the text, especially the liberal use of ‘roar’—fun for little ones to contribute when reading out loud! The challenges Dinosaur embarks on can also be used to encourage discussion about just why dinosaur might need the potty.

Everybody Poos

Taro Gomi
Frances Lincoln: 2002 (first published in Tokyo 1977)
ISBN: 9781845072582
Age: 3+

Reviewed by Viv Young

Everybody Poos takes a big picture look at poo in the animal kingdom. It touches on the different smell, shape, and size of animal poo. The survey of how animals poo (standing still, on the run, in the water) leads to a more detailed but still brief overview of human habits before concluding with the crisp and clear observation that since everybody eats, everybody poos.

This toileting book is great for toddlers becoming interested in bodily functions or children concerned by them.  By placing poo in its broader context, Gomi normalises this bodily function. The frank pictures (e.g. boy children are shown using the potty and in a used nappy) and simple text are well suited to parents and children taking a no-nonsense approach to toilet teaching.

Nappy Duck and Potty Pig

Bernette Ford and Sam Williams
BoxerBooks: 2014 (reprint)
ISBN: 9781905417247
Age: 1+ (Board Book)

Reviewed by Viv Young

Ducky wants Piggy to come out and play but he’s sitting on the potty! After some thought, Ducky decides to give it a try.

This sweet story about transitioning from nappies to the potty cleverly uses the example of peers (important for many kids) as an encouragement to move to the next phase of toilet learning. There is, however, no pressure or coercion. Ducky is confronted with her friends inability to play and starts to think about her own nappy—it is cold and wet—before she decides to ditch it for a sit on the potty herself.

The artwork for Nappy Duck and Potty Pig conveys a surprising amount of emotion for a pig and duck—in a happy waddle and attentive pose reading on the potty all the pride that comes with confident toileting shines through. The endpages are delightful—they look a little like duck and piggy wallpaper. For overall cuteness you can’t beat this pair of cuddly young creatures whose fluffiness and pudginess are an adorable way to introduce the topic of toilet learning.  

This version, released as a board book recently by Boxerbooks, uses the title Nappy Duck and Potty Pig and the term nappy consistently throughout. The same story is available under the title No more Diapers for Ducky! using the American term diaper throughout.

Once upon a potty: girl (also available for boy)

Alona Frankel
Firefly books: 2007 (reprint)
ISBN: 9781554072842

Reviewed by Viv Young

A mum introduces her girl Prudence and her new potty. She explains how Prudence used diapers when she was a baby and has now been given a potty by her grandmother. After exploring what this potty thing might be and learning more about it, Prudence starts to use the potty all by herself.

Once upon a potty is a frank, positive and age appropriate story about learning to use the potty. In relating the story of one child who has a few minor mishaps, the story reassures young readers that it is okay to take one’s time learning to use the potty and that it is something to be proud of when one does. The mother character is supportive and encouraging throughout, the language is straightforward.

 The original story, written in the 1970s, has been reprinted many times and also released in a boy and girl version. This is particularly useful because the artwork shows an anatomically correct girl (or boy in the boy’s version) in various scenes. The illustrations, on bright block backgrounds, are focused on the child and mum —they help elucidate the ideas presented in the text and convey the feelings of pride, happiness and curiosity explored in the text. This is a relaxed, joyful book about toilet learning that encourages a healthy approach to a basic human function.

Skip to the Loo. A Potty Book

Sally Lloyd-Jones (author) Anita Jeram (illustrator)
Walker Books: 2018
ISBN: 9781406377347
Age: 1+

Reviewed by Viv Young

Bunny needs the potty, so bunny skips to the loo with a bunch of quirky animal friends. There’s a smiling frog on tiptoe, a naughty big fat monster (Stinkaroo) and even a dodo! Indeed, everyone’s at the potty party but is there someone missing?

Skip to the Loo is a charming potty book that injects a whole lot of gentle fun and laughter into a sometimes-fraught experience for parents and young children. The illustrations, from one half of the duo who created Guess How much I love you, make animals sitting on potties adorably cute! And the text is a perfect match—upbeat and sweet yet with a touch of scatological humour that squeamish parents can tolerate easily (e.g. “Potty! Party! Poo!). One of the best parts of this potty book is undoubtedly the re-invention of the phrase ‘skip to the loo’, which gives parents a great way to gently encourage their kids to engage with toilet learning. There’s also a surprise mirror that might just help young readers find themselves in the procession to the loo.

Uh Oh! Gotta Go! Potty Tales from Toddlers

Bob McGrath (author) and Shelley Dieterichs (illustrator)
Barrons Educational Series: 1999
ISBN: 9780812065640
Age: 2+

Reviewed by Viv Young

In 20+ short vignettes memorable potty moments for a variety of children are portrayed and accompanied by a brief statement complementing the artwork.

Uh Oh! Gotta Go! is a gentle way to explore a new phase of toileting teaching with a focus on fun and curiosity. Each vignette depicts a scene—some are sweet like Tammy teaching her bear to sit on the potty, some are funny like Kuniko who likes to flush, and some are poignant such as Toby who doesn’t make it to the toilet in time but mum says, ‘That’s okay’.

Given the variety of the scenes there is sure to be kids in here that your little one can relate to, moreover the final pages speak directly to the reader involving him or her in the numeration of friends learning to use the potty. From the very beginning, with its bright yellow cover the artwork and design for this picture book are joyful. Each scene is full of kid-detail like the scattered toys (even in the bathroom) and colourful striped wallpaper. This is an interesting book for kids who know what they’re doing but need to find the fun in learning to use the toilet.

You can go to the potty

William Sears, Martha Sears, Christie Watts, Renee Andriani
Little, Brown and Company: 2002
ISBN: 9780316788885
Age: 2+

Reviewed by Viv Young

You can go to the Potty places toileting in the broader context of your child growing up and becoming more independent. It begins with babyhood and all the things mums and dads do for babies (e.g. feeding, carrying, comforting, and changing nappies) and then moves on to the things your child is starting to do independently (e.g. asking for food, self-settling and asking for a new nappy). A clear step-by-step guide to toilet learning follows. It makes suggestions for how children can learn (e.g. by watching siblings) and what they can say to let parents know the potty is needed. It discusses when the transition to ‘big kid underpants’ will happen and why it’s okay if the transition isn’t seamless. Various sections include insets for curious minds, explaining for example, about the size of the bladder and differences between males and female bodies. The book ends with encouraging words that when read from you to your child assures your child of your love and pride in their ongoing development.

This book is one of several in a series produced by the well-known Attachment Parenting proponents William and Martha Sears (Series title: Sears Children’s Library). It has information on helping your child learn to use the potty at the front of the book and further information about AP Parenting at the back. It encourages parents to insert their own terms for toileting (e.g. wee for pee) and as long as this is done should not be confusing for children of non-American households. Since the author addresses the child reader directly and the illustrator has gone for a relatively gender-neutral child protagonist (shortish red-haired child wearing plain block colour pants and t-shirt) it should suit many children. There is only one image that might be called ‘instructional’ – an older boy weeing into the toilet while standing and only the wee itself is shown. This is a book parents and children can turn to at various stages in the toilet learning process.

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