Felicity McVay (words) and Caroline Seltz (pictures)
New Holland Publishers, Australia, 2020
Gosh! We are all in need of a bit of fun right now (and always) and The Boy who Burped is guaranteed to inject a dose of this for its readers and listeners. Most small children are rather interested in bodily functions, and those involving embarrassing noises always invoke hilarity.
Felicity McVay, who comes with an impressive CV in a variety of creative industry companies, tells us she comes from a family of burpers and farters. She also comes from a language loving family, and a life-time of reading stories aloud and silently, alone and in company has held her in good stead to create her tale of windy Barnaby.
Interestingly the initial sounds of Barnaby’s diet provide a hefty clue for the main content and denouement of this story and my 9 year old test reader was quick to pounce on it as his predictor of outcome (before turning the final page). This may seem trivial, but early childhood educators will assure you that prediction is one of the major beginning reading skills.
One doesn’t, of course, want to bang on too much with education jargon, when really what we have here is an entertaining book which will appeal to young children both for its story and its jolly pictures.
Caroline Seltz’s illustrations are lively and amusing and just the sort that many primary school children like to make themselves. The text reads well aloud with its rhymes, which are not slavishly bound by rigid scanning, but which flow and move outside the iambic pentameter norms. This, again, is an attention grabbing technique.
This book will find a home with many families and with progressive schools not averse to saying burp and fart aloud. And if you feel you need to moralise you can always make a manners lesson out of it!