cover image Fartiste


Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewer, . . Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-2828-7

True story: a boy discovers he has an unusual command over the muscles in his intestines. With lots of practice and ambition, Joseph Pujol becomes the Fartiste, the fin-de-siècle sensation of the legendary Moulin Rouge. “A bit of Beethoven, a song by Mozart,” write Krull (the Lives of... series) and Brewer (You Must Be Joking! ) in their rhyming quatrains, “A Debussy ditty—all through a fart.” (Respectful of their audience's curiosity, the authors also note, “his flatulent actions completely lacked smell.”) Clearly tickled by the subject matter, Kulikov (The Castle on Hester Street ) employs a brassy palette and broad, earthy expressions reminiscent of vintage theatrical posters; he captures both Pujol's consummate showmanship and the joie de vivre of the gas-lit (no pun intended) bohemian world that embraced him. As for the famous flatulence, even the politest company will find its visual interpretation apropos: Kulikov draws each breaking of wind as a cross between a Botticelli-esque cloud and a comic-strip text balloon. The don't-miss afterword discloses that Pujol's actual stage name was Le Petomane (the Fartomaniac) and that his fans included—mais oui! —Sigmund Freud. Ages 4–8. (June)