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Book Review: Ferdinand Uses the Potty by Jay Tucker, Illustrated by D.E. West

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When Ferdinand the frog discovers at wet spot in his bed, he’s both dismayed and mystified. Where could this mysterious dampness have come from? His friend -– a human boy -– explains that he too has wet the bed in his younger days, telling Ferdinand it’s understandable that he’s upset but that peeing the bed doesn’t mean he’s bad. His recommendation? Use the potty after every meal.

Unfortunately Ferdinand has an aversion to the potty, he’s terrified of the noise it makes when it flushes! After trying to “hold it” all day long Ferdinand Uses the Potty and succeeds in overcoming his fear.

Written in rhyming prose, Ferdinand is a bold, enthusiastic exploration of overcoming bed-wetting and the commonly held fear about using the potty that can arise after children understand the basic concepts of potty-training. Ferdinand and his young friend don’t attempt to explain the basics of going to the potty, or even describe the event in much detail -– they rather focus in on being afraid of the toilet, and to some extent on wetting the bed.

Author Jay Tucker’s prose is somewhat irregular however. At times the rhyming scheme works well, at other times it’s just awkward. Clearer rhythmic schemes or writing in simple prose would have worked better for parents trying to read this book aloud to their toddlers.

The spacing of the illustrations is also a bit odd for a picture book. Some stretches of pages feature an illustration on each page. Others have text on one side and an illustration on the other. Both arrangements are fairly standard, but some facing pages feature only text, which make it difficult to keep hold of the short attention spans of squirmy toddlers and preschoolers. My youngest daughter is gearing up for potty training, and I couldn’t interest her in Ferdinand though she does adore her other potty training picture book. She could find it harder to relate to a frog as a main character than she does to a smiling little girl as well.

With both Ferdinand and his friend being male, and Ferdinand’s dreamings and days filled with exuberant action (car racing, comics, toys etc.), this title could be a good fit for little boys who already have the head knowledge necessary to potty train, but are still struggling with some issues. Because boys can be trickier to teach, and have a greater tendency towards wetting and potty-fear, this encouraging title emphasizes that they’re still good, and will some day overcome their difficulties.

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About Jennifer Bogart

  • Of course! 🙂 My little girls love them too ;).

  • Jay Tucker

    Thank you Jennifer for your honest and valuable input. I have one point of contention, however. Plenty of little girls like race cars, comics, and toys! 🙂