Review: I Eat Poop By Mark Pett

Following the last review about London’s sewer system, it seems like a good time to share a hilarious, somewhat informative, and kind of sweet story about a dung beetle. You won’t soon forget this clever story about an insect school, friendship, being yourself, and well, poop! Check out I Eat Poop by Mark Pett, 2021.

a spread of the beetle's room with a messy dresser on the far left, a bin of clothes and a basketball on top, a telescope pointing out a window that shows giant leaves, the blue beetle boy is lying in bed looking nervous. His clock and a beetle figure sit on a green table next to his bed. There are drawings on the wall around him.

This fun story is all about a little dung beetle named Dougie. He’s headed off to school like usual. He has breakfast with his family and then helps pack his lunch… a lunch he then goes to hide in the play yard as soon as he arrives. He’s the only dung beetle at school and his poop-laden diet is something he knows all the other kids will make fun of him for. He even pretends to be a plain ground beetle. He has tried to take pride in his dung beetle heritage, but he just feels different and embarrassed.

A yellow school bus has pulled into the school parking lot and loads of insect kids are crawling out of the bus. Dougie is on the far right hiding his paper bag lunch under a rock.

That day at school, something extraordinary happens. One of the popular kids purposefully tricks their teacher, surprising him into his signature pill bug ball. It causes chaos until Dougie snaps into action and controls the ball with his dung beetle moves. The kids are all impressed, and suddenly Dougie is invited in with the cool kids! He is thrilled.

A school hallway with lockers lining the back is teeming with insects walking to and from classes. Dougie walks carefully in the center with his backpack and yellow jacket and red cap.

And then lunchtime arrives. He pretends to not be hungry, ignores his usual friend who is a housefly, and barely makes it hungrily to recess when he can sneak off to grab his lunch from hiding.

Dougie is surrounded by excited "popular" bugs on the left spread. He stands alone on the page on the right looking bewildered at his good fortune.

Unfortunately, he isn’t alone and he soon finds himself stuck between being himself or doing something mean to another bug. The tough decision will have ramifications on his character, but it even extends to changing the school as well!

The left page shows a full cafeteria of tables with kids eating lunch. Dougie walks through the center waving at people. The housefly sits alone at the end of a table eating his lunch. The right page shows 3 vignettes with Dougie and the housefly playing blocks as baby bugs, swinging together, and then eating poop snacks at a movie.

Such a unique and interesting book. While the title is surely an attention grab, the story itself is so realistic to school drama and the struggle to understand and accept unique things about ourselves. I love the tried and true lesson thrown in with an incredibly strange setting and characters. While I cannot quite think about some of the food items in the story without feeling grossed out, they make my kids laugh and I can appreciate the poop humor.

The left page has Dougie sneaking his lunch out from under the rock while kids play on the monkey bars behind him. On the right, a closeup of Dougie opening his lunch with a gnat peering over his shoulder and questioning.

I’ve long been a fan of Mark Pett. His storytelling is unique and often heartwarming. While he is certainly taking an interesting turn with this main character and interests, it is still so fun and definitely gets the child audience to connect in the preposterousness and humor. Pett’s illustrations are very soft and cute. I always admire his washes of color, which are surprisingly done digitally.

The group of popular bugs surrounds Dougie and the lunch, pointing to the housefly on the swings. On the right, Dougie stands center staring out at the reader while holding his lunch and thinking. The group of popular bugs stands behind him menacingly.

Hopefully you enjoy this unique narrative. If you don’t, I’m sure any kiddos in your life will. It became a quick favorite from our library pile here. The giggles it produces are pretty fun and it opens up some good friendship and identity conversations. I hope you’ll give it a chance!

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