POINTS: 3 out of 10.
Bechdel: 0 point
Variety of characters: 0 point
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point
I have to admit, I love this book. It was actually one of the ones I wrote about in my MA thesis, but I shall try to keep it a bit shorter here.
First things – No Bechdel pass, since all the dialogue takes place with the mole himself. No diversity points, since all the characters are very clearly animals (and for once, apart from the talking, mostly acting the way animals do).
And yet, I adore this book, and so does pretty much every kid I’ve ever seen it read to. Because it is a book about poo. More than that, it’s actually kind of educational!
I could write hundreds of words on the power of ‘the taboo’ and toilet humour in children’s books, and in fact, one whole chapter in my thesis was devoted to this. Kids love this stuff, and it’s good that they do! Safe transgression is really important for children, and being able to laugh at the things adults frown upon is a perfect kind of safe transgression.
But there’s some other stuff going on in this book too – it’s showing us that you can actually get a lot of information about an animal by knowing about its poo. You can figure out what animal it is using no other information, in fact. I mean, the mole had to ask some ‘experts’ (flies – because, of course), but in the end he found the culprit.
I love it. I love the glee it gives children. I love the fact that it manages to be funny and transgressive, without ever actually becoming gross – because it’s all about the naturalness of the thing, after all. It’s good stuff. If you have small humans, you should definitely give it a read with them. They’ll be delighted, and depending on how much you’ve held on to your own childlike ways, maybe you will be too. 😉