________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 19 . . . . January 20, 2012


Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger.

Kevin Bolger. Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.
New York, NY: Razorbill (Distributed in Canada by Penguin Canada), 2008.
215 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 978-1-59514-284-9.

Subject Headings:
Knights and knighthood-Juvenile fiction.
Princes-Juvenile fiction.
Humorous stories.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Todd Kyle.

*** /4



For across the bridge stood a huge, menacing knight. He was clad in black armor, carried at his side a tall black lance, and sat atop a mighty charger, also black.

The bridge was too narrow for them all to pass together. And this Dark Knight didn’t look like he was budging.

“Hail, Sir Knight,” the Dark Knight called out, in a voice like a grizzly bear taking its frustration out on the tuba.

“What did he say?” Sir Fartsalot asked Harry. “I’m a little bit deaf at this range.”

Harry, seeing an opportunity for a bit of fun, just couldn’t help himself.

“He said,” Harry explained, “‘Prepare to fight.’”

Sir Fartsalot frowned.

“Good, Sir Knight,” he called out, “we have no quarrel with you.”

“And I have none with you, fellow knight, both brave and manly,” the Dark Knight replied.

Sir Fartsalot looked questioningly at Harry.

“He said, ‘When I get done with you, you’ll be begging for your mammy,’” Harry translated.

In yet another gross-out book aimed squarely at reluctant male readers, the mischievous Prince Harry of Armpit, whose father King Reginald is frustrated at his son’s lack of interest in all things knightly and medieval, decides to play a practical joke on the visiting knight Sir Fartsalot by tricking him into believing that a “booger” is haunting the kingdom and must be stopped. Accompanying the good Sir on his quest, Harry has to make an effort to make sure that no one tells the knight the truth, all the while dodging dragons, ogres, and most frightening of all, a bevy of lovelorn princesses. When the pair are joined by the King and the rest of the knights in the Enchanted Forest, the truth is finally revealed, only to be turned on its head when the “booger”, itself, appears and is subsequently vanquished by Sir Fartsalot.

     Paling somewhat in comparison with the classics of this genre for their sublime wit and comic timing, Sir Fartsalot seems derivative at times, especially in the excerpt above, whose dialogue is suspiciously reminiscent of the Dark Knight scene in Jon Scieszka’s Knights of the Kitchen Table (this Dark Night, however, turns out to be Fartsalot’s old friend, Sir Cedric Knotaclew). The grossness rarely lets up, and Harry’s looming guilt over the trick he is playing is a fairly meek counterweight to the maximum silliness going on.

     Still, there is no doubt that boys will delight in instantly recognizing the multiple double-entendres that permeate the narrative. From Sir Farsalot’s “Foul West Wind” (silent but deadly) to the cries of “Snot...it can’t be!” to the knight “cutting the cheese” (his own gourmet creation) to the “booger”, itself, this book is one long practical joke that will hit funny bones squarely. The speed of the jokes is matched only by the speed of the action, which is always more on the ridiculous than the dangerous side. And the book’s conclusion, where only Harry (and the reader) suspect that the booger is simply the Enchanted Forest playing on Sir Fartsalot’s imagination, gives the book some sort of satisfying conclusion. Not the best, but still a solid winner for the right audience.


Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Newmarket, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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