CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 26 . . . . March 9, 2012
The sequel to Farticus Maximus and Other Stories That Stink, this is a second volume of stories entirely on the subject of flatulence. The title story and its reprise at the end continue the story of the eponymous Roman gladiator who wins fights with his horrible smell, here finding himself called back to the Coliseum to fight his arch enemy, Gassius Brutus, with whom he has to escape the evil emperor's trap. In "Little Old Grannies Don't Toot" (excerpted above), a family is forced by their fart-averse father to evict several hitchhikers from their car while on vacation due to their guests' sudden breaking of wind, until it is revealed at the end that Dad has his own little secrets! In "Stinklock Holmes and the Hunt for Lady Winston's Wind-breaker", a caricatured version of the fictional detective investigates a mysterious fart at an aristocrat's elegant party. A second set of "Fartoons" adapts famous movies into titles like "Bravefart."
Like its predecessor, Farticus Maximus: Stink-Off Battle of the Century and More Stories That Reek! is a combination of narrative text, illustrations, comics, and lots of stylized dialogue, but it is lacking in the sublime wit of the "Captain Underpants" series and comic timing of "And Then It Happened" series, and often seems to go a little too far into grossness for its own good. The best stories here have an undeniable subversive quality to them that would make excellent participative read-alouds ( as in the excerpt above), but none have as much zing as the best of the previous book. The line illustrations, although dripping with crude irony, are rather amateurish, and here seem sometimes superfluous-in one case, a graphic sequence repeats entirely the previous story.
Still, Farticus Maximus: Stink-Off Battle of the Century and More Stories That Reek! is a worthy addition to the plethora of gross-out books that appeal to the most reluctant of readers.
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario.
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