Farticus Maximus, by Felice Arena

If you’re not a fan of blood and gore, stop reading now. If hardcore bone-crushing battles to the death make you sick in the stomach, then seriously, don’t read another line: this fable is not for you!
Go on! What are you waiting for? Skip to the next story…
Hmm? You’re still here. Stubborn aren’t you?
Oh well, if you’re going to continue to read this I’m going to have to swap some words, so that I don’t totally freak you out.
So, the word ‘kill’ will be replaced with ‘butterfly kiss’ and ‘stab’ will be replaced with ‘hug’. Got it?

There are nine stories in Farticus Maximus. The title comes from both the first and the last story, bookends of the same story. These two, where the reader is offered different ‘chapters’ in the life of Farticus are set in the time of the Roman gladiators. The remainder of the stories are more contemporary. One story, ‘Mrs Deadly Gas’ is told first in prose then a second time in a stick-figure comic version. Another is less a story than a series of illustrations relabelling movie titles, with re-drawn posters. A further story spoofs television series like ‘Idol’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’. All story titles include some direct reference to flatulence. Even the flick-the-page image is of a series of ‘gas explosions’. Farticus Maximus is sold complete with a whoopee cushion.

Never were so many euphemisms for flatulence gathered together in one book! There is nothing subtle about Farticus Maximus. Nor is there intended to be. There is however, pun after pun…after pun. The cover is bright and busy and proclaims loudly its contents. Inside, the large font resembles hand-writing. There are images (also by Arena) on many pages and on openings with no images, there are words writ large and bold to break up the text. While popular culture references extend stories like ‘Flatulence Star’ and ‘Fartoons’ they can be read without this knowledge. From comedy to tragedy to everything in between, Arena is out to prove that all stories lead to flatulence. Sure to be a hit with mid-primary readers, particularly boys.

Farticus Maximus, by Felice Arena
Scholastic 2008
ISBN: 9781741692167