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Walter the Farting Dog Book: It's a Gas

Updated on January 10, 2023
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Carolyn writes about children's literature for library, preschool, and homeschool settings. She has a BA in English literature.

Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray, and Audrey Colman
Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray, and Audrey Colman

Over 1 Million dog lovers have enjoyed this book about a poor unfortunate pooch who just can't help letting it rip.

Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray caused a sensation when this book was first published in 2001. This book is a love it or hate it kind of deal: after all, this book is unabashedly about flatulence. It says so right on the cover. The book is about a dog farting, and the comical adventures that happen because a dog is farting.

But who would want to buy a book about such a lowbrow topic? Apparently millions of readers. This book topped the New York Times bestsellers list and stayed there for months. What is the appeal of a farting dog?

Walter is a pooch with more to offer than his poor digestive system, in fact, he is rather likable. And people who are prone to be turned off by this type of bathroom humor may stick around after reading the story's tag line: For everyone who has ever felt misjudged or misunderstood.

I guess what I'm going to say is going to shock a few people, it's not the popular opinon these days. Kind of like being a Democrat during the midterm elections. Walter The Farting Dog will hold the same appeal for a dog-lover that a cute, newborn baby with a fussy tummy and a smelly diaper holds for its parents. It is a reminder that we love our children or pets, despite their shortcomings. Lots of dogs fart, but so do lots of people. This book has to go above and beyond the bathroom humor to hold its appeal.

I was just speaking with a friend about this book the other night. She is a huge animal advocate, and she volunteers at the Animal Care and Control center in her city, walking dogs so they can get the exercise they need. Her unique service to these animals is an example of kindness that I honor and admire. I am so proud of her choice to improve these animals' quality of life. She LOVES this book. Recalling it, she burst into laughter, and I could tell she was choking back tears. That is the effect this book has on dog lovers. Walter is a sad-looking little thing. In fact, his canine facial expressions are so forlorn, they border on wretched. I know my friend has encountered many such animals in her work. Hardly funny. But my friend saw through to their true worth. Animals worth loving despite their wretched circumstances. Perhaps this is why Walter manages to be both wretched and lovable. There's something, I don't know, humorous about a dog like Walter. His owners love and accept him, in spite of his little problem.

The book's illustrations appropriate for this strange book, partially because they are also strange. In fact, what some people might label "bright and cheerful" I would call almost lurid. The illustrator of this book, Audrey Colman uses a unique style that appears ultra-realistic. The colors are vivid and intense, and blend together in a carnival or side-show atmosphere. Think merry-go-rounds or a hall of mirrors. On the positive side, the people in the Colman's illustrations remind me of the people you see depicted in Byzantine-era icons. They are brilliantly detailed and highly emotive. As we follow Walter through subsequent stories in his series, Walter appears overfed and just a little bit miserable. He is so fat on his thin little legs, it makes me wonder how veterinarians feel about this book! Colman's unusual artwork is a good marriage with the strange misadventures of poor Walter the pooch.

This book flouts all the conventions of children's books. It's hero isn't cute, and he is only as cuddly as a cornered skunk. and the illustrations, as I mentioned, are kind of bizarre. I believe the raw appeal of this book remains this author's unwholesome foray into the world of potty humor. The book isn't malignant or perfidious, merely toxic. Walter the Farting Dog, with its lowbrow humor and in follow-up books, ludicrous story lines, is not for everyone. But if you know or even ARE a dog lover or pet owner who has a special place in his or her heart for a farting dog, this bestselling series is for you.

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Cast your vote for Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle

Other Titles in the Walter the Farting Dog Series

Four more books in the Walter the Farting dog series.
Four more books in the Walter the Farting dog series.
  • Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale
  • Rough Weather Ahead for Walter the Farting Dog
  • Walter the Farting Dog Goes on a Cruise
  • Walter the Farting Dog Banned from the Beach

Nine More Children's Picture Books about Dogs

Nine dog-themed children's picture books
Nine dog-themed children's picture books
  • Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion is the classic children's book about a cute white and black dog who gets very dirty while trying to avoid his bath. Published over 60 years ago, this book has held its appeal over time.
  • Can I be Your Dog? by Troy Cummins is written as a series of letters to prospective owners. Who will adopt the cute little dog? It takes some work and perserverence, but patience and hard work pay off as the letter-writing campaign yields results from an unexpected source.
  • Hop on that Bus, Gus. This flight of fancy takes off with a school bus-driving dog pal and all of his friends, who take a joy ride around town in this silly and fun book.
  • Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. A board book by the zany author and illustrator of Hippos go Berserk, The Belly Button Book, and of course, Doggies. This book has a message of love from parents to children.
  • Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. A children's picture book depicts life in pet heaven, where every dog goes when he dies. This book's popularity is underscored by its top spot on the Amazon bestseller's list, but it may not agree with your concept of heaven, so check it out before you buy it.
  • City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems and John J. Muth is a simple tale anchored in the seasons, about the short friendship of a city dog and a country frog. This is a good book to read about the seasons of friendship.
  • How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills. This book about a playful puppy who wanders into a little yellow bird's classroom and accidentally becomes a reading student will be an instant hit with children's librarians and dog lovers.
  • Dog by Matthew Van Fleet and Brian Stanton is a simple board book depicting photographs of all kinds of dog breeds.
  • The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant and Kathryn Brown tells the story of an aging woman who is a bit skittish about friendship, so she names only the things that can outlive her, such as her chair, Fred. When she meets a little brown dog, she is reluctant to change her ways until he goes missing.

© 2010 Carolyn Augustine


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