Pottymouth and Stoopid

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Pottymouth and Stoopid Book Poster Image
Underdogs overcome labels in sensitive, funny story.

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Kids say

age 8+
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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Positive portrayal of adults who thrived despite bullying in school shows it gets better, and that talents and qualities unappreciated by classmates can be real strengths later in life. Excellent depiction of how giftedness and talent can be expressed in unconventional ways. Teaches how teasing labels can have serious consequences.

Positive Messages

What makes you a target for teasing in childhood may very well prove to be an asset or talent when you're an adult -- once you're out of school, "nerds rule." Kids sometimes do stupid things, but it doesn't mean they're stupid. Words have weight, and labels can be humiliating and damaging for the people saddled with them. Nearly everyone gets teased in middle school -- but that doesn't make it OK.

Positive Role Models & Representations

David and Michael are loyal, supportive best friends who appreciate each other's special qualities. David's mom works very hard to support her son and advocates on behalf of the boys, and his grandfather is warm and affectionate. Adults at school are just as callous toward the boys as the students, but the adults they meet at an animation studio are warm, supportive, and kind.

 

Violence & Scariness
Language

A bit of juvenile language ("butts," "poop," "pee"). An adult couple swears constantly but the vulgar words are represented with symbols.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pottymouth and Stoopid is about best friends whose quirkiness is misunderstood -- and ridiculed -- by everyone around them, including teachers and school administrators. It's the latest collaboration by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (I Funny: A Middle School Story). Seventh-graders Michael and David are ostracized by peers who follow the lead of a popular girl most people don't recognize as mean. Michael lives with bickering, unsupportive foster parents. David is being raised by his overworked single mom -- he refers to his selfish father, who doesn't support David in any way and ultimately exploits his child, as his Ex-Dad. Though the story has plenty of humor and the ending is uplifting, there's a pervasive sadness: David narrates with brutal honesty just how miserable he and Michael feel. There are precious few caring adults, and one of them dies. There's no cursing, though a flurry of symbols pepper arguments between Michael's foul-mouthed parents. Michael's Pottymouth nickname is due to his habit of making up words that sound like nonsense (and suspiciously off-color) to others.

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old September 1, 2017

Great book

Amazing it is

What's the story?

POTTYMOUTH AND STOOPID are Michael and David, best friends since preschool -- when David was first stuck with his unfortunate nickname. Now 12, they're mocked, blamed, and targeted by classmates and teachers alike who don't recognize their talents. As if seventh grade isn't hard enough, the friends are taken by surprise when a new cartoon based on their experience -- but made without their knowledge -- becomes an overnight smash. Michael and David are suddenly famous, but they're as unpopular as ever. They fear things will never get better -- until a caring adult and a supportive pack of fellow middle school misfits stand up to the bullies.

Is it any good?

James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein return to familiar terrain with this well-told, affectionate story of two seventh-graders whose remarkable qualities can feel more like a curse than a blessing. Pottymouth and Stoopid shines a spotlight on verbal bullying, which doesn't always get taken as seriously as physical assaults, and shows how labels can take on lives of their own. The jokes, insults, and herd mentality when it comes to judging others will ring true for any middle schooler. Patterson and Grabenstein write with a keen understanding of tweens, and the fun illustrations by Stephen Gilpin (the Dragon Slayers' Academy series) help keep the tone light.

The authors spend a little too long wallowing in Michael and David's misery, and their reversal of fortune is largely due to the efforts of one parent with the law on her side, which makes the end seem a little too pat. But it's encouraging to see so many past and present underdogs cheer each other on and find strength in numbers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how bullying is depicted in Pottymouth and Stoopid. Is the name-calling and mocking by students and teachers at all like what you witness or experience in school?

  • What's the appeal of books about bullying?

  • Do you have friends or classmates who are misunderstood by their peers?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love stories of middle school and standing up to bullies

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