VESUVIUS POOVIUS :: toilets matter! (world toilet day is November 19)

Ages 4 to 12 years

Vesuvius is a problem solver – and Rome has a big problem. A poo problem. 

No one knows what to do with all the poo. It’s so bad that ‘Some people even dropped it into other people’s pockets when they weren’t looking.”  (Now if that line doesn’t bring at least a grimacy smirk to your face I don’t know what will.)

Because poo is such a problem, it’s also a “forbiddenus wordus’, which leads to a whole slew of hilarious euphemisms like ‘huge daffodil’ and ‘cola cube’. Aside from all the usual uses for a poo book, this one does a great job of teaching how and when and why to use a euphamism.

Vesuvius – clever if marginalised chap that he is – figures out the solution:  tunnels and rain. 

He invents a toilet;  the pictures show a toilet that looks exactly like a modern pedestal toilet. 

Then all he has to do is get the Emperor to see his invention. So he devises a cunning plan! It works a treat. Vesuvius becomes a national hero and voila(!) Rome has plumbing.

Aside from being guilty-giggle-inducing right from the first page and aside from all the usual uses of a funny poo book, Vesuvius Poovius is also great for starting to teach concepts like:

The idea of close readings – how often do we tell stories of Ancient Rome without ever wondering what happened to the poo?

Euphemism – as mentioned above.

The idea that you best watch what you eat – it’s after eating a ridiculously rich meal that the Emperor and his wife have such a tummy ache they just have to try the new loo.

The illustrations are funny and detailed and I really like the juxtaposition of a modern loo into ancient Rome as well other hints of modernity like paper chains hanging on the wall for a party – they’re fun to notice and fun to talk about.

You’ll probably find that a whole raft of new poo euphemisms follow reading this book (which is ironic given that poo is itself a euphemism). Depending on the child, this could also be a good book to read to:

  • someone who is finding the whole toilet issue a bit much to deal with.
  • someone who just can’t stop with the poo jokes – at the very least it might head them off in a new direction.
  • someone who has a younger sibling who is toilet training and leaving an occasional mess – aren’t we glad to have toilets so this doesn’t go on forever!
  • someone who is a bit of an inventor.
  • someone who is being pushed around a bit  - Vesuvius does a brilliant job of getting on and ignoring the oafs who bully him (but be very wary of any implication that bullying or even teasing should be dealt with by the victim alone.)
  • someone in need of a laugh or needing to take life a little less seriously.
  • someone who is learning about different living conditions in the world today – we might have the poo problem licked but not everyone does.

Vesuvius Poovius is by Kes Gray and  Chris Mould. It's one to pick up from the library - or from Kes Gray's website.  It wasn't available from our booksellers at the time of writing.

Vesuvius became a national hero. … In fact, even today, some people still leave their loo seats up as a salute to Vesuvius Poovius.