A Toot in the Tub

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Local - Harold Wal­ters — Harold Wal­ters lives in Dunville, New­found­land, do­ing his damnedest to live Hap­pily Ever Af­ter. Reach him at gh­wal­[email protected]

Clas­si­fi­ca­tion can be a pain in the tooter.

Un­der­stand­ably, book sell­ers ar­range their shelves ac­cord­ing to sec­tions, but I’ve never been com­fort­able with this clas­si­fi­ca­tion: Fic­tion & Lit­er­a­ture.

Sounds up­pity, eh b’ys? It im­plies that cap­i­tal L Lit­er­a­ture is loftier than other — lesser? — fic­tion.

To the Fic­tion & Lit­er­a­ture folks I say, “Pop­py­cock.”

To wit …

Ni­co­lette Lit­tle and Tara Flem­ing’s A Toot in the Tub (Pen­ny­well Books) can be found in the Chil­dren’s sec­tion of book stores. That’s OK. It is a rhyming pic­ture book for kids af­ter all…

… but there is no rea­son a cou­ple of copies of this slip of a book couldn’t be tucked in among the big fat cap­i­tal L tomes.

De­spite his rocky start in a per­vi­ous cen­tury, Kurt Von­negut — my favourite writer dead or alive — is nowa­days per­pet­u­ally stowed on Lit­er­a­ture shelves

He’s an icon. For frig sake, he’s quoted more than Mark Twain.

Try a vin­tage Von­negut quo­ta­tion: “I tell you we are here on earth to toot around, and don’t let any­body tell you dif­fer­ent.”

Of course, Kurt doesn’t say “toot”. He uses the coarser[?] ver­nac­u­lar of Mid­dle English, or Old English, or An­glo Saxon for all I know.

A Toot in the Tub stands shoul­der to shoul­der — bumps butt to butt? — with Von­negut re­gard­ing this theme he (Man of Let­ters; Lit­er­ary Fig­ure) so of­ten touts: There’s noth­ing wrong with toot­ing around oc­ca­sion­ally. It’s good for the soul.

I know Kurt — who’s up in heaven now! — is tickled rosyred with this Toot in the Tub cou­plet: “When work is done and I need a scrub/I like to toot a big toot in the tub.” Lit­er­a­ture, eh b’ys?

And that’s not all.

An ob­vi­ous pur­pose of Toot in the Tub is to em­pha­size the “im­por­tance of be­ing kind to oth­ers.” The kid in the book helps Ms. Smith bring in her laun­dry and takes out her garbage. He helps his fa­ther rake au­tumn leaves. He helps res­cue the neigh­bour’s cat. He’s a wel­lbe­haved boy who says, “When she’s around, I’m good to the nanny.”

Hear Von­negut speak about kind­ness to ba­bies he wel­comes to planet Earth: “There’s only one rule that I know of, ba­bies — God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

The stuff of Lit­er­a­ture, eh b’ys?

Lis­ten, Lit­er­a­ture ex­plores im­por­tant is­sues.

While the text of Toot in the Tub doesn’t specif­i­cally ad­dress the is­sue I have in mind, the il­lus­tra­tions do.

Re­cently, my seven-year-old grand­daugh­ter — who might have been falsely ac­cused at her ele­men­tary school — made this thought­ful re­mark: “It would be nice if we could see toots, ‘cause then we’d know for sure who did them.”

Well, Pop’s Girl, thanks to Tara Flem­ing’s il­lus­tra­tions of toot bub­ble ris­ing from the bath­tub, know this: toots can be seen …

… and they’re turquoise. Is­sue re­solved.

Only one of Tara Flem­ing’s il­lus­tra­tions trou­bles me.

For­give me for point­ing out a safety con­cern.

The kid — who wears my child­hood spec­ta­cles, by the way — is help­fully (kindly) mow­ing his neigh­bor’s lawn with a power mower. He has paused af­ter mow­ing a swath and a half, and it’s a good thing …

… be­cause he’s wear­ing short pants and sneak­ers, his toes and naked shins ex­posed to ac­ci­dents.

Tara, my duck, please dress him long-legged pants and sturdy-toed boots be­fore let­ting him push that mower an­other inch.

Okay, I’m a nit-pick­ing cur­mud­geon. Be­lieve me though, I’ve seen bloody shin wounds caused by rocks flung from lawn mower blades. For frig sake, I’ve sported bloody shins lac­er­ated by rocks flung out from my mower.

My favourite illustration shows the kid hove off in a tub­ful of pur­ple bub­bles, turquoise toots drift­ing in the air like those bub­bles young­sters blow from Dol­larama bub­ble pipes in sum­mer.

The lit­tle feller is hove off en­joy­ing the plea­sures so well ex­pressed on the op­po­site page:

I like to foof a big foof in the bath,

It’s nice to watch those big bub­bles come up,

They tickle my back and go fizzeldy-blup!

No doubt, young­sters love this book. It al­lows them to have fun with a taboo from for­mer up­tight eras.

Blow con­grat­u­la­tory horns — Toot-Toot-Toot! — praises to the au­thor and the il­lus­tra­tor for their hu­mor­ous treat­ment of air­ing (!) in­testi­nal gas.

Yet I leave with an un­set­tling thought.

Toot­ing in the tub is a metaphor for re­lax­ing and be­ing one­self.

I fear the metaphor wouldn’t work as well — wouldn’t be as cute — if, rather than kids, old geezers were en­joy­ing the tick­les go fizzeldy-blup, eh b’ys?

Thank you for read­ing this gem-dandy piece of Lit­er­a­ture.

A Toot in the Tub

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