Walter the Farting Dog Book by William Kotzwinkle Review
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 so...so...oh, 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.
More Picture Books About Dogs
- 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. This book's main theme of loneliness in the elderly is a theme also explored in the children's book by Susan Hill, King of Kings. A bandy-legged little dog named Jack-o makes an appearance in this moving Christmas story.
Please feel to explore some of my favorite children's books listed here!
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett · A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams · Babies by Gyo Fujikawa · Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin and Eric Carle · Charley Harper's ABCs by Charlie Harper · Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons · Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes · Daughter of a King by Rachel Ann Nunes · Excuse Me! By Lisa Kopelke · Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat · Harry and The Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach · Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson · I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll · I'd Choose You by John Trent · Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback · King of Kings by Susan Hill · Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman · Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes · Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney · Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney · Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle · No David! by David Shannon · Olivia by Ian Falconer · Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier · Snowballs by Lois Ehlert · So Much by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury · Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch · The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone · The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle · The King With Six Friends by Jay Williams · The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman · The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges · The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell · The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy · The Red Shoes a Fairy Tale by Gloria Fowler and Sun Young Yoo · The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats · Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel · Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White · Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak · Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits