Everyone Poops is a Japanese children's book by Taro Gomi. First published in the US in 1993 by Kane/Miller Book Publishers, it was met with reactions ranging from amusement to outright hostility to fanatical, fatwa-esque hatred (Madeline Kane, one of the book's American publishers, was physically attacked by an outraged exhibitor at a bookseller's conference).

To fully understand the glory that is Everyone Poops, it really must be experienced firsthand. Gomi's quirky illustrations are the perfect foil for the blunt, informative text, which is all about - you guessed it - pooping. The title page shows a raccoon surrounded by panels of pellets, piles, and logs of all shapes and sizes, representing the great leveler that is the act of defecation.

"All living things eat," the book begins simply, "so everyone poops." The first page shows a frontal view lineup of animals - a horse, a dog, a mouse, etc. - and when you turn the page, you get to see what's going on in the...uh...tail region. Little piles of poop are neatly arrayed beneath the animals. Words don't do justice to how amazingly charming the illustrations and text are!

Evidently, Japanese culture is not nearly as squeamish about bodily functions as American culture. Taro Gomi was surprised that his little book had sold about the same number of copies in the US as it had in Japan, and was quoted as saying in an interview with the Associated Press, "I don't know why my books are so popular in America, but there appear to be very few books of the type I write available there."

Not anymore. Buoyed by the success of Everyone Poops, Kane/Miller has scoured the globe for new titles to add to their My Body Science collection of foreign children's books. You can now purchase The Gas We Pass, by Shinta Cho ("If you try too hard to hold in your farts, your stomach may hurt. So, don't hold them in - pass that gas!"); The Holes in Your Nose, by Genichiro Yagyu ("The holes in your nose are not pockets. So don't put pebbles, peas, erasers, pencils or anything else in the holes in your nose."); Contemplating Your Bellybutton, by Jun Nanao ("Your bellybutton is an important mark of your birth from your mother."); All About Scabs, by Genichiro Yagyu ("Don't pick that scab!"); and The Soles of Your Feet, also by Genichiro Yagyu ("We can do all sorts of things with the soles of our feet."). The newest addition to the series is a book by Yagyu entitled simply Breasts, and it's designed to answer any questions little kids might have about their own bodies or about the breasts of their mothers.

Everyone Poops is the one and only shining star in the (pardon the pun) vast wasteland of potty-training books for kids available on the market today. Most of them have an insufferably prudish, almost Victorian tone to them, and many have the icky, "Father Knows Best" feel of the old "Dick and Jane" books. Mark my words - in 10 years or less, when a new generation of noders straggles onto the E2 scene, they will venerate Everyone Poops the way you love Dr. Seuss's or Maurice Sendak's works.

I love the fact that these funny, matter-of-fact little books cause kids such delight and their parents such discomfort. When Everyone Poops came out, I was working as a nanny for a very progressive, high-profile couple (you'd recognize their name) and their adorable 2 and a half year old daughter. She would love for me to read Everyone Poops to her over and over again. She'd listen very intently, discuss the pictures very seriously...since she was in the process of being potty-trained, this was breaking news to her: everyone poops! Not just me! This was exciting, comforting, need-to-know info for a kid her age. And the book tickled me to no end.

A couple of years later I took a similar job (great kid, rotten parents this time around) and I bought Mitchell a copy of Everyone Poops. He was the exact same age as Elisa was, in the same stage of development, but his parents were tight-assed, repressed individuals (even though they were both doctors!) and I never saw the book in their house again after Mitch's third birthday party.

But you know what? They poop too.

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