Thursday, October 15, 2009

REVIEW: Fartiste

Krull, K., & Brewer, P. (2008). Fartiste. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Read that title again. Fartiste. Hmmm. Now look at that cover illustration <------. I saw this book displayed on one of the top shelves of the children's section of the library and couldn't pass it by without reading it.

I think many readers will do the same, especially those boy readers, who historically speaking have been reluctant reader and have had trouble finding stories that catch their interest--although that has certainly changed within the past decade (Captain Underpants? Anyone? Anyone?). The best part though, is that this isn't fantasy that parents and mean teachers can frown upon as being inappropriate for a school setting. This is historical fiction! About farting! And even better. It Rhymes!

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Thank you Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewer and Boris Kulikov for entertaining me this much. I greatly appreciate it!

Fartiste is the story of Joseph Pujol, a Frenchman who had unique control over his intestines. A baker, to help to support his large family, Pujol performed, turning his ability to fart at will into an act he was eventually able to go to Paris to perform in the Moulin Rouge.

The illustrations capture their Parisian setting well, managing to realistically represent culture in the mid to late nineteenth century, but also containing a bit of fancy when attempting to portray Pujol's talent.


This is an excellent book to use with students who laugh endlessly at fart and burp jokes. Chances are good it'll engage them in a way few other books manage to. Of course, after a read aloud is finished with this book (or still in progress if a teacher is particularly lucky enough to have a talented student) a teacher should be prepared for, errr, students to embrace Joseph Pujol's talent as their own.

Fartiste has the potential to encourage reluctant students to ask questions about awkward body functions they may otherwise be too uncomfortable to ask. In terms of social studies, this book could trigger a discussion of French history (with some special attention to how France was impacted by the first world war or the Victorian culture). For language arts, a teacher could discuss poetry and rhyme schemes. There's even an anatomy lesson here! A teacher could go over the digestive system or share factoids about human intestines. A teacher could also challenge older students to think about whether they view a performance of farts to be art or not.

A teacher could also use Fartiste to present the idea that everyone has a talent and could encourage students to contemplate their own skills. Along the same line, a teacher could use this as an example of thinking creatively.

Quotes of Note:

"Joseph Pujol was a French boy of eight
When he stumbled upon his very best trait,
While splashing around in the ocean one day
Not far from his house in the town of Marseille."

"How or low, soft or loud, and sweet, even tart--
He was honing his skill: the art of the fart.
Noise from his backside--wow, what a gift!
His fartistic training was amazingly swift."

"One day a baker with butter and yeast,
And the next--viola!--he was JOE, the Fartiste."

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