A book about #2

The World of Poo - Terry Pratchett

Disclaimer: ARC for the American Edition via Netgalley.

This is a book about poop (or poo) or whatever other term you wish to use to describe what ends up after we digest things. Some people call it other things (I’m looking at you Count Dookie, sorry, Count Dooku).

This is a book about poo for children so at no point is the s word used (in case you were wondering).

If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett and have kept up with the Discworld books, you will know that the World of Poo by Miss Biddle is a favorite book of young Sam Vimes, the son of the elder Sam Vimes and Lady Sybil.

This means, for those of you who don’t know, that World of Poo is like the books that Rowling put out that were used by the students in her Potter books. Or, if you prefer PBS, it’s like a cook on Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs putting out a cookbook.

If you are not familiar with Pratchett, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs, I don’t think I want to talk to you. No offense.

Whoever designed this book with Pratchett, or if it was Pratchett himself deserves - I don’t know what. Something. The design is impressive because it even has signed message for Sam Vimes from Biddle as well as a list of other works by Biddle. All the titles are rather well . . . one book is called the Wee Wee Men for crying out loud. The illustrations are quite lovely as well.

The story is about Geoffrey who discovers that he is quite interested in poo and wants to start a Museum of Poo. He then goes around collecting poo from all sorts of things. That’s the basic plot.

But since this Pratchett, you know that the book is far more than that. Pratchett was the man who took a story about a god being a turtle and turned into a wonderful look at tolerance. Pratchett takes a werewolf and dwarf and deals with racism and other isms. He doesn’t do sparkly vampire stalker tales.

And so packed into this book is an elephant patty’s worth of information about the history of waste disposable. While Geoffrey gets poo from swamp dragons, the facts about poo (like night soil) are real world. It’s a sly, gross, jokey way to actually teach about history and science.

Seriously, every science classroom should have this book.

And, more importantly, beside a book about poo and history of its uses and disposal (as well as all sorts information about different species’ poos), it is also a book about supporting a desire to learn. While his grandmother is not overly thrilled at Geoffrey’s interest in poo, she does support it. The most moving (and it is moving) aspect of the story is how the adults respond to Geoffrey. They think he is crazy, but since he is willing to learn, since he is in the quest of knowledge, they support him. They don’t suggest he play football instead. They don’t try to interest him in tea. They actually arrange to further his knowledge.

That is so awesome.

If you have never read Pratchett before, this book will give a taste of his style. Because the critics are right – Pratchett writes for everyone. The only difference between a “child’s” Pratchett book and an adult one is the age of the protagonist. The book takes place in the Discworld, but you don’t need to know anything about the Disc to follow the story (you might miss one or two inside jokes, but that’s it). This book illustrates Pratchett (or Biddle’s) depth of knowledge as well as his humanist spirit.
It’s about time it was available in the U.S.