What Do They Do With All That Poo? – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Ever drive by the zoo and ask yourself the burning question:

For all the scatological humor enthusiasts you know, this book should be at the top of your reading/buying list.

Told in rhyme and accompanied by vibrant illustrations and fabulous factoids, we arrive at the zoo banquet table where everyone is chewing….Page turn, please. And then they’re pooing.

Having been up close to hippos during their “tail-flapping like windshield wipers on frantic” pooping mode, I give kudos to the illustrator for restraining herself.

Readers learn a variety of names for poo, including manure, scat, and guano. That giraffe poop looks like marbles and why. That pandas only digest 17% of the bamboo they eat, so their poo is green, a mushy mass of fibrous stems and leaves, and doesn’t smell bad.

After another page turn, (I spoke too soon about the illustrator’s restraint!) s # ! t hits the fan, folks. A hippo sprays its territory with poo to warn off predators. That cheeky hippo eyeballs the reader so gleefully! Cue the giggles and guffaws.

But then there’s the daily weight of elephant poo, how rhinos communicate via their poo, how lions sometimes bury their poo….oh, so much interesting information about poo!

Did you know that wombat poo is cube-shaped?

Kurtz  also covers sloth, penguin, snake, hyena, and bat poo. You’ll have to discover the full details for yourself.

But the bigger question is still: What do zoos DO with all of that POO?

Some zoos have to deal with more than 5,000 pounds of poo daily. Here’s what happens:

Some poo is studied to make sure the animals are healthy.

Some zoos are experimenting with using poop to make a type of gas that will power zoo vehicles or zoo buildings.

Some zoos pay for a portion of that poop to be trucked to the landfill. Some poo is turned into compost for gardening. Think “Zoo Manoo, Zoo Doo, and Pachy Poo.”

And of course, this book would be remiss not to mention worms, the free-range slitherers at the zoo:

First, worms like to munch it.

Their poop is so teeny!

Then worm poop plus zoo poop

grows perfect zoo-chini!

Puns and poop! There’s also info on how elephant poo is turned into paper. I’m telling you, this book has it all!

The last spread heads to those pesky primates and their antics with poo, including a hypothesis as to what those antics are all about.

A wonderful blend of rhyme, fun, and factoids. Picture book writers take note: This book successfully addresses the interests of the very young as well as the school age crowd, by using a rhyming text to take us through what’s happening on a basic level and then adding a more dense factoid paragraph on each spread. I learned so much. Did you know that bat poo sparkles with insect exoskeletons? Ooohhhh, shiny! Enjoy!

Title: What Do They Do With All That Poo?

Author: Jane Kurtz

Illustrator: Allison Black

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Beach Lane Books, 2018

Themes: Animals, poop, science

For more perfect picture books, please check out Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday blog.


25 thoughts on “What Do They Do With All That Poo? – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I knew I could count on you to properly appreciate the subject matter, if not the book. I do think it does a fine job of depicting the spray in the second spread, at least as fine as a static photo can possibly be.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I think more and more zoos are getting on board with putting that waste to best use. My son did a community service project in Costa Rica, and found out that they’ve been using methane gas from cow manure for a long time. Seems like zoos could do that, too!

  1. Maria Marshall says:

    Jilanne, that title is so funny & attention grabbing. Our zoo definitely goes in for the “ZooDoo” for gardeners & “Zoo” paper (though I haven’t used either). My kids would have loved this book when they were young. Maybe I should give to my nephew….

  2. Lady Fancifull says:

    Ha ha ha…..and, I think I might just need to try and have a private hippo emulating moment. This must be the only post where a reader could say ‘this makes me want to fart’ as a compliment!

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