Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Guts Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Funny, sensitive account of dealing with bathroom anxiety.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 22 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Guts offers advice about how to deal with anxiety and fearfulness and makes it clear that talking to a therapist about such things is perfectly normal.

Positive Messages

With help from family, friends, and mental health professionals, kids can learn to calm their feelings of anxiety. Kids sometimes act mean out of insecurity, but if you take the time to get to know someone, they might turn out to be a friend after all.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Raina has a problem with fear and anxiety, especially when she's at school. By learning about why she feels this way, she develops skills in calming herself down.


There's alk of bathroom activities, including barfing, pooping, and farting.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Guts is the third graphic memoir by cartoonist Raina Telgemeier, author and illustrator of Smile and Drama. The book dramatizes her struggles to overcome her fears and anxieties about bathroom issues, such contracting the stomach flu or needing to move her bowels urgently. There's frequent talk of poop and vomit, plus a couple of illustrations of people in the act.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymsbarnes October 3, 2019

Another Important Graphic Novel

I am a fifth grade teacher and all of my students love Telegemeier's work. I have read two of her other novels, Smile and Sisters -- but this one hits some... Continue reading
Parent Written byNiki M. October 6, 2019

The Real World Is Tough

Guts is a wonderful book it teaches kids about puberty in a fun and educational way. It is a real story that means stuff happens and Raina fought through so you... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old October 30, 2019


In reality, this happens. I have the copy and this is great!
Teen, 13 years old Written byBookNerd09 March 22, 2021

This book really helped me!!

When I read this book for the first time, I was going through something similar to Raina. I hadn't told my parents about it, but this book gave me an idea... Continue reading

What's the story?

As GUTS begins, Raina catches the stomach flu and vomits. She doesn't think much of the incident until she starts feeling sick at school for no particular reason. Soon, she can't stop thinking about needing to use the bathroom and fearing that she'll be sick. It gets to the point where she is having trouble concentrating on her schoolwork. She starts to see a therapist and learns techniques for calming herself down, which also help her at school and among her friends. 

Is it any good?

Everyone uses the bathroom, and this funny, moving graphic novel demonstrates what happens when a person gives too much thought to the process. With a sharp eye for design and a discerning ear for dialogue, Raina Telgemeier chronicles in Guts her struggles with anxiety and digestion issues during elementary and middle school. As an illustrator, she captures the big gestures that kids make during those years, giving the characters an expressiveness that ably transmits their internal feelings. As a writer, she finds believable plot twists and touching character moments. Young readers will relate to Raina's troubles, which are treated with sensitivity and humor.

Guts is another winner from a deservedly popular literary creator -- insightful, poignant, and funny.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Guts describes treatments for anxiety and stomach issues. What are some ways to reduce stress and get a handle on anxiety? What are some activities that cause stress?

  • Is talking to a therapist about your problems "normal"? What can a professional therapist offer that a friend or family member might not?

  • Why are bathroom activities so embarrassing to most people? How does the media and commerce play upon people's fears and insecurities regarding natural processes?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels

Themes & Topics

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