Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sitting Down with Artie Bennett, Author of "Poopendous!" and "The Butt Book" -- Author Interview and Book Review


It is not often that I stumble across an author as funny as Artie Bennett is.  Not only are his two books hilarious to read, but I couldn't stop laughing as I read through his responses to my Author Spotlight questions.  So, please let me start your day on a high note, and put a smile on your face, as you enjoy my interview with Artie Bennett, the author of "Poopendous!" and "The Butt Book."  After my interview with Artie, I have included more about his two books, along with thoughts on each, so make sure you continue to scroll down to learn more about his work. :-)

 Say, "Hi," to Artie Bennett. :-)

And, now on to my interview with Artie -- Enjoy!:


Let me say, first of all, Robin, how—ahem—flush with excitement I am to be able to share the visionary promise of my “number two” picture book, Poopendous!, and my first “mature” work, The Butt Book, with your legions of readers. So thank you mightily for the opportunity, for after all, without the support of children’s book lovers like yourself, my books would wither on the shelf, never to deliver even one oodle of family fun.

Tell me about your latest book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?

I will reveal all. Poopendous! The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop gently imparts a natural history lesson while it entertains. It’s written in light-hearted verse and it’s great fun to read aloud. Just the other day, I received an unexpected testimonial. I had an appointment with my doctor, who surprised me when he brought in his own copy of Poopendous! for me to sign before our office visit began. He told me that his small son, Charlie, became deeply upset when he was told that he had to bring his Poopendous! to the office to secure my inscription. Charlie began to cry bitterly, for he didn’t want to be parted from his cherished copy for even a moment.

      What was the impetus for Poopendous!? The Butt Book was out and making a name for itself, so I cast about for the perfect follow-up. I didn’t want to be a Johnny One Note. I still had more to say. Yes, I needed a second act. What should it be? I toyed with many possibilities, but when the word “poopendous” came to me out of the blue one day, that clinched it! I knew I not only had to write it, but I also had both the title and the final spread. My number two picture book would be about . . . “number two”! How fitting! And after all, what more fertile topic could there be but poop. And the vast appeal of poo should never be pooh-poohed.

Gobs of research went into Poopendous! That’s how I started. I jotted down all the fascinating information I could gather about poop. Some of it I already knew, but not all of it. For example, I didn’t know “The Mongol yurt, a native shack, is often sealed with dung of yak.” At one of my readings, a small boy exclaimed “Yak, yuck!” Too much! 

To my delight, Poopendous! has been associated with potty training. I’ve had several parents tell me that they were purchasing it as a reward for their child’s efforts to master the potty. I have to say that I didn’t initially envisage that, but I find it so gratifying that the book can mark an important milestone in a child’s life. The book is also, apparently, a popular Father’s Day present, demonstrating its broad crossover appeal.

Reviewers have stressed how the books are wholesome and charmingand not in the least gross or offensive. And they’ve been embraced by librarians and educators, who’ve described them as “gateway books,” ones that show children how much fun a book can be and get them excited about reading.

How did you get interested in writing this particular genre?

I write in verse and love to do so, and I welcome the everpresent challenges that this poses. I’m sure that growing up on the great Dr. Seuss, of whom I’ll have more to say shortly, gave me an early—and lifelong!—love for stories in verse. My books also have a smattering of natural history. Nature has been a longstanding passion, even though I was a city boy, more at home on steamy asphalt than sylvan trails. And my books have a large dollop of humor, which makes the whole undertaking jolly good fun. It’s a unique and original blend—verse, nature, and humor—but it seems to suit me fine.

Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books? 

Dr. Seuss has been an inspiration to me. I wrote The Butt Book with his wacky anatomical books in mind—The Foot Book, The Eye Book, The Tooth Book, The Eyetooth Book, etc. I loved these books as a lad, and I still do. In fact, I dedicated Poopendous! to him (“to Dr. Seuss, my meuss”). I think he might’ve liked the pun therein. His books informed my childhood and introduced me to the joy of wordplay. They helped shape my personality. I can recall how my excitement would positively bubble over whenever I stumbled upon a new Dr. Seuss book—or at least one new to me—at my local library, for I knew it would take me to new imaginative heights. To my unalloyed joy, some reviewers have compared me, favorably, with the maestro. Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection crowed: “If Dr. Seuss decided to write about bodily functions, he probably would have come up with something as zany as Poopendous!Gathering Books weighed in with: “If Dr. Seuss or Roald Dahl were to pick up this book, I’m quite certain that they would take delight in the title alone, and find the actual content even more delightful!” And The Show Me Librarian exulted: “Bennett’s use of rhyme is excellent; his stanzas flow and exude joviality in a manner that few writers since Dr. Seuss have truly mastered. Simply put, these books are a joy.”

My absolute favorite title of Dr. Seuss’s would have to be And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Mulberry Street is about a small boy, Marco, whose imagination runs riot on his way home from school. He’s about to share his fantastic observations with his dad, but he suddenly feels stifled and admits to seeing only “a plain horse and wagon on Mulberry Street.” This was Dr. Seuss’s very first children’s book and his genius was already in full flower. I love its rhythm and its unbridled creativity. And Dr. Seuss could draw, something I’ve never mastered, so I rely on my magnificent Mikes (Mike Lester for The Butt Book and the great Mike Moran for Poopendous!).

What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?

My day job, which I adore, is executive copy editor, whereby I attempt to put a sheen on the work of other writers. I pursue my own writing on weekends and in snatched snippets of time at night. I don’t have a daily writing goal, but mostly write when inspiration strikes—and time permits. Interestingly, I do some of my best “writing” in the pool. I swim every weekday morning and I do believe I’m at my creative peak when I swim. I come up with some of my choicest verses while doing my laps. And if I happen to be stuck on a particular verse (poet’s block?), I frequently find solutions. It’s imperative, though, that I jot them down right after I towel off or they’ll slip back into the pool. So I have pen and paper with me at all times, except in the pool. Something about the rhythm of swimming seems to bring forth creativity. Perhaps it’s because my mind is a blank slate then, ready to be composed upon.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I’m burdened with a perfectionist streak and therefore agonize over every single syllable. I tweak and revise endlessly until I get things just right. And then I tweak and revise some more. It’s important that my rhymes be stout and true. But perhaps even more important is that the cadence of the verses be fluid. If the stress happens to fall on the wrong syllable, the verse will clang upon the ear. And since I’m going to be reading it aloud, I can’t have clangorous verses. They would catch in my throat. Audiences would boo. And that would never do.

It’s immensely satisfying when I feel I’ve nailed a verse, when it shines. One of my favorites from Poopendous! is my chant: “Rabbit pellets, raccoon tubes, owl whitewash, and wombat cubes!” Amazingly, the Creator gave wombats cube-shaped poop (described as resembling rather pungent dice) and gave me the tail end of a fun and informative couplet!

What’s the best thing about being an author?

The best thing for me is seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of children at my readings. It lifts my spirits and gives me reason to continue writing. And parents also express their appreciation for the books, often leading the laughter. I sometimes have to pause while reading, waiting for the laughter to die down. Having others respond with favor to something you’ve created is a heady experience. And giving the gift of laughter to youngsters is a blessing that transcends words, even words like poopendous!

What are you working on now?

I’m putting the finishing touches on my next picture book, which comes out in October. In fact, I just got the sketches the other day and they’re a hoot! I like to say that it has the potential to be my most offensive book yet, because it’s all about . . . feet! It will be called Feet-Tastic! and, like its predecessors, it’s chock-a-block with fascinating natural-history facts rendered in humorous verse. Feet in all their unfettered glory. So stay tuned. There’s much more merriment in the offing. Did you know: “Millipedes have feet to spare. They’re not content with just a pair.”

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

I would tell aspiring writers to read as much as they can. It will help them find their own unique voice and give them an appreciation for a well-turned sentence. And when it comes to getting published, the watchword is persevere, especially in the face of rejection. Every writer experiences rejection, some more than others. All the greats had drawers stuffed with rejection slips. But if you have an original voice and you have something to say, you’ll eventually find your way. Who knows? You could be the next . . . Artie Bennett!

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? 

What is your guilty pleasure?
I have a major ice cream habit—we’re talking twelve-step caliber!—and I require three scoops of the glorious stuff before lights-out. It’s a terrible thing this Chunky Monkey on my back, but it’s my only vice (vice-cream?). Now, lest I balloon beyond the bounds of our apartment, I’ve been forced to alternate my intake of dairy ice cream with soy-milk, coconut-milk, almond-milk, rice-milk, even hemp-milk-based (what will they think up next?) ice cream. This way I can indulge my habit in a guilt-free and gluttonous fashion. I gotta go now. I feel a craving coming on.

Happy reading!!!


Please take a moment to wipe the tears from your eyes from laughing so hard at Artie's responses to my Author Spotlight questions.  Then, when you are ready, please continue on to learn more about his two books, "Poopendous!" and "The Butt Book".


"“Everyone poops—yes, it’s true—from aardvarks to the humped zebu.”
Artie Bennett, author of the award-winning and much-acclaimed The Butt Book,
delivers the inside scoop on every type and use of poop in his “number two,” spanking-
new picture book. In hilarious verses, with eye-popping illustrations, Poopendous! relates
the many, often remarkable uses of poop throughout the world while paying homage to
its prolific producers, from cats to bats to wombats! Virtuoso illustrator Mike Moran
gives us a Noah’s Ark of animals doing their less-than-solemn doody. So pick up your
pooper-scooper and come along for a riotously rib-tickling ride. You just may agree that
poop is truly quite . . . poopendous!'"

Visit ArtieBennett.com . . . before someone else does! And, make sure you follow Artie on Twitter: @ArtieBennett.

My Thoughts:

If you follow my blog, then you know that my daughters and I have been sick with the flu, a sinus infection and stomach flu, so it was only fitting that the girls would enjoy a book about poop.  Now, I have bookcases full of books for the girls to have read to them, but I can say without even having to look, that we don't own books about poop -- well, that is until Artie Bennett sent us his book, Poopendous!, to enjoy.  

Have you ever wondered what poop from all walks of life looks like? Some of you may say "Yes,", why others are still trying to figure out why I chose to review a book about poop -- hang tight while I get to the juicy part of the review -- ehh, didn't mean for it to come out that way. :-)   Let's just say that my dry humor is coming out, after spending the past few weeks up around the clock with sick children.  Ok, back to the review...I digress. :-)  

I, too, wondered why anyone would want to read a book, let alone, write a book about poop.  But, after you pick up a copy of Artie Bennett's book, Poopendous!, you will see that he makes learning about all the types of poop and its uses fun.  Did you know that Dung beetles roll up their poop into balls and gobble it up when they get hungry?  I didn't, but now I do, thanks to Artie and his poop book.  Ever wondered why monkeys fling their poop (or monkey as it is called?  They usually do this when under stress, and as a way to compress. See, another tidbit of information you learn from reading Poopendous! by Artie Bennett.  

While his topic choose may seem weird, I guarantee both you and your child will get a kick out of reading this book.  With a a fun rhyming scheme, the story flows nicely and makes you want to read on to see what it is on the next page.  And, the illustrations done by Mike Moran are playful and really bring the story to life.  I wonder if the illustrator ever thought he would be creating doodles for a poop book?  I don't think so. :-) 

And, even though I have spent the past few weeks running back and forth to the bathrooms with the nasty stomach flu going around, and I have gone through what seems likes cases and cases of diapers, my daughters and I couldn't help but cheer up as we read this and Artie Bennett's other book about your butt. :-)  So, if you are looking for an attention-grabbing book that will keep your children entertained and engaged from start to finish, then you will want to pick up this or Artie's other book, "The Butt Book" today.



"Tall butts, short butts, round butts, flat butts.
Butts on mummies and butts on mommies.
Butts on giraffes and elephants and dogs and… FISH?
Yes, even fish butts are celebrated in this tribute to backsides, rumps, tushies, keisters, heinies, and derrieres. Dozens of funny rhymes and pages of laugh-out-loud pictures pay homage to a body part that keeps kids and grown-ups giggling with glee."
Bottoms up!

My Thoughts:

This book was just as funny as Artie Bennett's other book, "Poopendous!" and followed suit with the cute rhyming scheme.  Out of the two books, this one has become both my daughters' favorite book to have read to them. And, I want to personally thank Artie for making my daughters' feel comfortable enough in their skin to want to strip down and as Savannah says, "Tap the Bum Bum."  ::-)

My husband was the firs one to read this book to the girls, and tried explaining to Savannah that is a playful book about how our bottoms/bums/butts...however, you want to call your backside is an important part of your body.  It not only provides a place for you to site, but also lets you sit on a potty.  

And, with all the bums shots in the book, illustrated masterfully by Mike Lester :-), you can't help but giggle as you check out each and every bottom.  From big to small, round to flat, Mike Lester did a great job in bringing Artie Bennett's hilarious story about butts to life.  

My husband and I found ourselves picking up this book off the coffee table on a few occasions just to flip through and chuckle. And, family and friends who come to visit and see the book laying around, will oftentimes pick it up and read it.  Then, once they are done laughing and wondering why we have a book about butts on the coffee table, they can't help but ask where they can pick up a copy to share with their children. :-)

So, if you are looking to bring a little laughter to your reading time with your child(ren), why not consider picking up either or both of these laugh out loud books by Artie Bennett.  These books would also be great to share with children who are usually not fans of reader. Once they see that there are all types of book available for them to read, who knows...maybe they will want to pick up another book to read?

I want to thank Artie Bennett again for taking the time to answer my Author Spotlight questions and for sending along autographed copies of his two books for me to share with Savannah and Arabella.  We will definitely be keeping an eye out for more books from Artie in the future to add to our collection.  I wonder what he has in store for us next? :-)  But, in the meantime, we will enjoy reading his books about poop and the butt. :-)

Disclosure: I was set copies of the author's books in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

No comments :

Post a Comment