Harvey, the Boy Who Couldn't Fart, by Matthew Johnstone

There once was a boy called Harvey.
Harvey’s life was pretty good except for one thing…
No matter how hard Harvey tried,
he just couldn’t fart.

You’d think that everyone who has a bottom could fart, but it seems not. Although everyone around him seems to have no trouble producing all manner of flatulence, poor old Harvey just can’t join in. Even Mum can fart although she prefers not to do so in public. And as evidence mounts that Harvey is the only person in the world unable to fart, he becomes sadder and sadder. It is said that a problem shared is a problem halved and when Grandad notices his sadness, Harvey tells him about his non-farting problem. Never fear! Grandad has a solution. Harvey’s life is turned around. Illustrations use digital media and a broad pastel pallet, almost retro in style, perhaps suggesting the age-old nature of farting?

Small children (and plenty of not-so-small) are fascinated by farts. They are also intent on learning to do everything that those around them can. Sometimes this is about copying, other times it’s about realising that they are naturally doing what others are doing. Like farting. Universal you’d think. But not for Harvey. Matthew Johnstone inserts many of the common euphemisms for farts, but also the behaviours around this daily function. The dog provides ‘silent but violent’ farts, his sister prefers to fart in private and his friends have competitions for ‘backfiring.’ Even a bird ‘toots’. Grandad might provide the tool, but it’s Harvey’s use of it that wins awards. And in case sharing all the fart words wasn’t enough, readers can learn how to make their own award-winning farts. Sure to open discussion on your family’s particular words for farts, but hopefully not graphic illustration! Recommended for pre- and early primary children. *note: comes with a Fart-o-matic!

Harvey, the Boy Who Couldn’t Fart, Matthew Johnstone
Walker Books 2010
ISBN: 9781921529832

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.