cover image Animals in the Outhouse

Animals in the Outhouse

Anja Frölich, illus. by Gergely Kiss. Sky Horse/Sky Pony, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-61608-659-6

Hoping to instill a sense of bathroom decorum among the forest animals, a ranger leaves a blue outhouse in a clearing in this story first published in Germany. Professor Grunter, a wild boar, arrives first with newspaper in hand. But, intimated by the toilet’s “deep dark” hole, he bluffs about having used it. Kiss’s quirkily expressive cartoons are an excellent match for the outrageously silly premise. Like Grunter, other animals have anxious moments in the outhouse, failing to use the toilet but feigning triumph, giving the story a hint of The Emperor’s New Clothes. As Harriet the rabbit exits, she haughtily announces, “It is about time we animals had a decent lavatory.” Amid the humor, Fröhlich sneaks in a subtle lesson about peer pressure. Parents should prepare for repeat readings: this joke is unlikely to get old soon. Ages 4–8. (May)