Arthur Pong And His Smelly Song by Jose Fernandez

Although children’s books are a bit of a departure from what I normally review (I’m certainly a man child but I don’t have any children of my own), this particular one was a pleasant surprise. The subject matter is something my nephews would pop my eardrums laughing themselves hoarse over, and the book has a positive core message. I’d have liked for more time to have gone into the art itself, but the characters all have a distinctive style that works well enough.

First, this is a book about farts, but not any farts. No, these are the sort that the titular character, Arthur, has finely crafted into a symphony described as angelic. That was enough to get me snickering, but the author proceeds to walk the reader through the juxtaposition of the quality of Arthur’s performance with the horrific smell methodically wiping out his neighborhood. It had me laughing, and I’m a law student averaging no more than five hours of sleep a night. That’s an accomplishment, and I can only imagine when parents and children are involved this book will make for a raucous occasion.

The core message of the book is simple, direct, and the sort of things kids should hear at least five times a day. In summary: you should do what you love without worrying about what other people think regardless of how embarrassing or unusual it may be. There’s no conflict in the book: Arthur passionately blows a symphonic movement out his hind end, and his neighbors, though laid low by the stench, adore the music.

The other thing the book shows that I think is important is his family supporting him by serving large helpings of beans and, ahem, engaging in what I assume can only be rehearsals. It sends a good message to a child that it’s right for his or her parents to support him or her. There’s also a message to the parents, very reduced but one that’s worth remembering: they should always make sure their child feels supported and accepted, no matter how outlandish his or her behavior.

I would have liked to have seen more from the art, but there is a distinct style and the characters are drawn in an amusing manner. I feel the story is entertaining enough that the art certainly won’t detract from it, but a bit more refining, perhaps some more color (although not too much), and a bit of background drawn in here and there would help flesh things out and make the book as visually engaging as the text itself is.

In short, the book is entertaining enough to make a jaded law student snicker at fart jokes aimed at a five year old, it has a good core message, and the art, although not as fleshed out as it could be, does a sufficient job and has a distinct, consistent style throughout the book. You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.

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