Snot Chocolate by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin Books) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9780143309222
Reviewed by Dianne Bates
‘Funny stories from one of Australia’s favourite authors,’ reads the title page of this collection of nine stories that follow earlier titles Give Peas a Chance and Pizza Cake. Yes, there is certainly humour in the stories, but sometimes, too, the author sneaks in political statements: ‘Trump our dog sits on the floor next to me liking his bottom, which is his hobby.’
The first story, ‘King Ned’, set in the thirteenth century, features a boy who, with his Uncle Vern, always gets up at dawn in a hovel ‘in case the pigs needed a lie down.’ Overnight events have changed in England so that suddenly, to his immense surprise, Ned is proclaimed King. His Lord Chamberlain is a ruthless man: ‘before Ned could say anything else, the Lord Chamberlain’s sword flashed and the heads of two courtiers plopped onto the ground, followed by the thud of their bodies.’ Despite the goriness of numerous beheadings, there is a lot of humour in the story.
Other stories in the book are set in modern times and include the secret diary of a dog, the story of how one slice of bread can make you the most popular person in school, and how to defeat a bully using a demolition ball. One story focuses on pig-nostril gruel, another on a child who lives in a house 'that gets wiped clean more often than a bottom'; the FDC title of one story refers to a Fairy Demolition Contractor who grants a boy wishes to demolish whatever three structures he chooses. The final, title story is told from the point of view of a boy whose chocolate-addicted mother is in court defending her clients accused of hijacking over five thousand Easter bunnies. There she is, ‘a top lawyer picking her nose and eating it.’
As in many of his books, Gleitzman’s stories display a wild and clever imagination. Also, too, he appeals to kids’ basic instincts with numerous references to peeing and pooing: ‘Sometimes life does a poo on your head and you just have to wear it.’ And too, he tells his tales in simple, easy-to-read sentences. There's no doubt young readers with a penchant for gross – and more subtle -- humour will enjoy this book.