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Excuse Me! (Dave Hughes & Holly Ife, illus by Philip Bunting, Scholastic)

Husband-and-wife-team Dave Hughes—yes, the comedian—and Holly Ife’s first picture book is about something close to any toddler’s heart (or should I say bottom). It’s all about farting, that universal, evergreen topic that will delight any child. Martha May, a bespectacled sheep in a delicate pink dress, has perfect manners—she speaks politely, chews with her mouth firmly closed and refrains from burping or making any other rude noises. Unlike the other animals, she certainly does not fart. Or—and this is where Hughes and Ife get creative—‘pass wind’, ‘pop off’, ‘toot’ or ‘fluff’. But one fateful day, during a baked beans bonanza at school, Martha’s tummy starts gurgling after eating one too many beans. Her tummy expands to such an extent that it acts as some sort of internal balloon, lifting her into the sky. Martha has to learn that farting is natural and expected if she is to descend again. Philip Bunting’s illustrations are in cute pastel colours; he also plays around with the direction of the font so that the book needs to be turned the right way to read it. Excuse Me will be a sure-fire winner with any pre-schooler interested in bodily functions, particularly the rude ones.

Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer and the books editor of the Big Issue


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