Let’s be honest . . . kids LOVE gross stuff, and they also love reading about gross stuff. Purple gunge, fish guts, gooey boogies, stinky socks, monkey poop, and, let us not forget the cornerstone of all kid humour, fart jokes. Every now and then you may come across a child reading Jane Austin who eats all their vegetables and doesn’t pick their nose. But I’m guessing most of the kids you know would laugh-out-loud when reading about someone eating a plate of worms (and I’m sure you did too when you first read The Twits).
I’ve had the pleasure of reading in this sticky sub-genre, having written a grotty kids book myself about a disgusting restaurant owner and his haphazard adventures, so I know what makes a good gross-out kids book. In my opinion, there is a line between gross for funny and gross which is off-putting. So I’ve painstakingly plucked my favourite 5 books from the hairy armpit of children’s literature.
Go on, give them what they want. Feed your little munchkins with some of these gross reads.
5. The Butt Trilogy by Andy Griffiths
These wonderfully gross books are written by Australian funny man – Andy Griffiths. Please don’t judge the first book in the trilogy by its title. You’d be forgiven for assuming the story to be one-dimensional and jam-packed with overused cliches. What you find inside is actually refreshingly original and full of imagination.
It all starts when Zackary wakes up to find his bottom is escaping out his bedroom window (I should explain that last sentence. In Zackary’s world your bottom has its own consciousness, it can walk and talk and cause all sorts of trouble for its owner). The boy must journey high and low with a team of butt-fighters in order to recapture his runaway butt. The foreshadowing is expertly executed, the laughs are too numerous to count, and the plot-twist at the end is wonderfully unexpected.
And when you read a quote like this, it’s hard not to smile.
“You might be unreliable, rude, smelly, non-self-wiping, and completely psycho, but you’re my butt and I love you.”
4. Ratburger by David Walliams
Yep, this one’s not just gross, it’s gruesome too. But don’t be squeamish adults – kids love gruesome!
David Walliams needs no introductions. The protagonist of this book does – she’s called Zoe. Much like all his other books, the main character is down-trodden from the start. She hates her nasty, benefit-stealing, prawn cocktail munching step-mum. She loves her broken-hearted, out-of-luck dad. Zoe also lost her hamster but finds a rat. Cue the villain – Burt, the very odd man who sells ‘special’ burgers outside the school gates, who is after Zoe’s rat for, well, the clues in the title.
Walliams has a talent for taking a stereotype, turning it upside, and picking it apart to reveal the beauty underneath. It’s why so many parents love his books – they are teaching kids to walk in other people’s shoes. Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill to learn.
This book hits all the icky notes. With constant gooey references throughout and a highly entertaining ‘Shawshank Redemption’ style escape at the end, it’s absolutely worth putting this in front of your kids.
(And don’t be fooled into thinking this book is for boys. It’s definitely not!
3. The Twits by Roald Dahl
If you need reminding, or for some reason have never read any Roald Dahl books as a kid, this book is amazeballs!
Everybody loves a good villain, and Mr and Mrs Twit are as good as they come. The couple
Admittedly, this is one of his shorter books. However, flip that last statement and got a great bedtime read-together story. With 29 short chapter’s you could either read 3 chapters a night over 10 days or 5 chapters a night over 6 days. That way you get to watch your kids as they discover the very same book you enjoyed at their age.
And, let’s not forget, that these wonderful words came from this book. An important message as the world wakes up to the importance of mental health:
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
2. Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs
It’s hard to believe that the author of The Snowman, a beloved book that has become a national treasure in the UK, also wrote a disgustingly brilliant book about a place called ‘Bogeydom’.
Raymond Briggs is long overdue a knighthood for his services to children’s literature. However, his true passion was for illustrating, and you’ll see why in this comic-style book. Deep down underground lives Fungus and the Bogeys – a vile collection of slimy, smelly creatures who revel in everything revolting. As you follow the bogey business of Fungus, kids will discover the many gross horrors of Bogeydom, each one more delightfully grotesque than the next. It’s a surreal but very funny field trip into a world full of snot, smells, slime, scum and many other unspeakable things.
The book is essentially a comic for reluctant readers, just like me when I was young. At only 48 pages long I’d say any 6 – 9 year old’s can handle it. But saying that, the number of parents who have reviewed this book and enjoyed it while their kids were in bed would suggest I change the age range to 6 – 9+.
1. Monster and Chips by David O’Connell
I can guarantee that you’ll never find a fish and chip shop as good as the one that David O’Connell has dreamed up. This book serves up a great, big dollop of imagination mixed in with some wonderful illustrations that no child could resist.
Joe accidentally stumbles into a strange alley. All he wants is to buy some chips. Instead, he
It’s bright, easy to read with fantastic illustrations and hilarious names for monsters and their culinary delights. Kids will especially love the head chef, Fuzzyby (who is the monster equvilalent of Jamie Oliver).
Warning: if you read this book to your kids you’ll have this inappropriate word stuck in your head for weeks… bum-toots!
… and, last but not least, here’s my GROSS kids book
There is no restaurant quite like ‘The Grotty Spoon’, and to be clear, that’s not meant to be a compliment.
The food is revolting, the service is slow, the chairs are uncomfortable, the toilets are infested, the dishwasher is a Yak called Fee Fee and every night something goes disastrously wrong in the kitchen… oh, and it’s also a holiday hotspot for jet-setting bacteria. But Mr Sprout, the head chef and all-around disgusting human being, thinks it deserves the top award in the restaurant business and will do anything to get it.
“Even though this book makes you go yuk my 8yr old loved it and as a parent I did get hooked and needed to keep reading with her.”– 5 star review.
Thanks for reading:)