The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Image
Seal Image The Bulletin
of the Center for Children's Books

The Bulletin Dozen is a monthly theme-based list of titles available only on-line. Since we're awfully fond of bakers here at the Bulletin, we thought we'd adopt their philosophy of generosity and throw in an extra one or two when we have them to offer--so don't expect an even dozen. Please feel free to copy, download, or link to these lists. We ask only that you cite the source. See the archive for lists from previous months.

Gross Me Out-Please! selected by Deborah Stevenson

To some readers, "ew-gross!" Is a warning cry; to others of them (okay, of us) it's a siren song indicating desirable reading material. Not all books that capitalize on this appealing distastefulness are created equal, however, so here are some that have employed that characteristic to best effect. Nonfiction seems particularly adept at this-perhaps truth is grosser than fiction? Abandon taste, all ye who enter here.

  • Arnold, Tedd. Parts; written and illus. by Tedd Arnold. Dial, 1997. 5-8 yrs.

    Our young narrator tells in verse of his alarm at the belly-button lint, peeling skin, and nasal discharge that seem to indicate that "the glue that holds our parts together/ isn't holding me!"; Arnold's wide-eyed hero rushes through artwork imbued with appropriate frenetic angst. (BCCB 10/97)

  • Cobb, Vicki. For Your Own Protection: Stories Science Photos Tell. Lothrop, 1989. Gr. 4 up.

    When seen up close, suede, dental plaque, and house mites are all pretty off-putting (and fascinating), as Cobb's gallery of photos, taken through a scanning-electron-microscope, show. (BCCB 2/90)

  • Elfman, Eric. Almanac of the Gross, Disgusting and Totally Repulsive: A Compendium of Fulsome Facts; illus. by Ginny Pruitt. Random House, 1994. Gr. 4-7.

    It is what it says it is, and quite happily too-Elfman makes even the most innocuous bodily function sound fascinatingly revolting, so you can imagine the relish with which he describes mutant lambs, bizarre insects, and strange human customs. (BCCB 10/94)

  • Gomi, Taro. Everyone Poops; written and illus. by Taro Gomi; tr. by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum. Kane/Miller, 1993. 2-4 yrs.

    Actually, the merit of this book is that it's as matter-of-fact as it is in its detailing of this basic bodily function, but it's still okay to giggle at the enumeration of the various species' output. (BCCB 4/93)

  • Grossman, Bill. My Little Sister Ate One Hare; illus. by Kevin Hawkes. Crown, 1996. 5-8 yrs.

    In this take on "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly" (itself pretty gross when you think about it), the narrator's little sister shovels in all manner of repulsive things without throwing up-well, nearly. Hawkes' dramatically lit art features Sis on stage wowing an audience with her dietary derring-do. (BCCB 1/97)

  • Jennings, Paul. Unreal!: Eight Surprising Stories; Uncanny!: Even More Surprising Stories. Viking, 1991. Gr. 4-7.

    Jennings's blend of deadpan style, urban legendry, elaborate homegrown conceits, and a lavish helping of lavatory humor (Unreal's cover art of a skeleton fitting on the toilet captures the tone) will be irresistible to many young readers. (BCCB 9/91)

  • Lavies, Bianca. Compost Critters; written and illus. with photographs by Bianca Lavies. Dutton, 1993. Gr. 3-6.

    Lavies makes rot resplendent in her photographs of glistening deteriorating tomatoes, wiggling nematodes, and courting millipedes as a detailed text explains how it all fits into the process of composting. (BCCB 6/93)

  • Lessem, Don. The Iceman. Crown, 1994. Gr. 4-6

    Here the good gross stuff is mainly in the pictures, which show the now-legendary 5,000-year-old Otzi in various gory poses before and after his extraction from the icy Italian mountains, but the description of Otzi's possible life and of the anthropological labor occasioned by his discovery will intrigue readers as well. (BCCB 9/94)

  • Monroe, Lucy. Creepy Cuisine: Revolting Recipes That Look Disgusting but Taste Divine; illus. by Dianne O'Quinn Burke. Random House, 1993. Gr. 4-7.

    Kids unsatisfied with mere passive grossness will revel in the chance to make and serve Pus Pockets, Spaghetti and Eyeballs, and Phlegm Brulee. Handy serving suggestions (that you probably don't want to hear about) and lively and helpful illustrations make this completely practical and thoroughly disgusting. (BCCB 10/93)

  • Ross,Tony. Don't Do That! ; written and illus. by Tony Ross. Crown, 1991. 4-7 yrs.

    Nellie's got her finger stuck in her fabulously pretty nose, and elaborate attempts to dislodge the digit ensue; Ross' manic illustrations make it clear that silliness is the prime lesson in this cautionary tale. (BCCB 11/91)

  • Snedden, Robert. Yuck!: A Big Book of Little Horrors. Simon, 1996. Gr. 2-4.

    Everything is disgusting provided you're close enough to it, judging by the multiply magnified images of fleas, peanut butter, compact discs, and, of course, human skin. (BCCB 6/96)

  • Solheim, James. It's Disgusting-and We Ate It!: True Food Facts from Around the World-and Throughout History!; illus. by Eric Brace. Simon, 1998. Gr. 3-6.

    This flavorful look at culinary culture offers a bounty of information about foodstuffs past and present, alien and familiar; lively formatting and a sassy cast of new-wavy critters make this one easy on the eye if not the tummy. (BCCB 4/98)

  • Wisniewski, David. The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups; written and illus. by David. Wisniewski. Lothrop, 1998. Gr. 3-6.

    Some of these truths are grosser than others (turn to the "Don't pick your nose" section for the grossness zenith), but the happily puerile "expose" of the truth behind proscriptions displays an alluring preadolescent brashness throughout. (BCCB 7/98)

    [Back to the Bulletin Homepage]

    This page was last updated on June 1, 1998.