That's Disgusting! Awesomely gross picture book

I browsed Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais's That's Disgusting! at the Brooklyn Book Festival last weekend, and found myself paging through simple, funny illustrations of a little girl doing absolutely gross things, like eating lollipops covered in sand. Each two page spread has the same format: on the left, the girl is doing something gross, with a caption ("Stuffing your mouth with hair") and on the right, in big block letters, are the words "That's disgusting!".

I paged through the book, laughing a little at the jokes, and then I got to "Sticking your finger in the cat's bottom," and realized that I was holding a gross-out masterpiece. I wasn't wrong: as you go further along in "That's Disgusting," you get to installments like "hiding boogers under your chair," "pooping in the bathtub" and "throwing up at the table." I bought it right away.

I've been back for four days now, and my daughter, who's three and a half, loves this book and demands to have it read to her at least once a day. The call-and-response structure of the story and the awesome ick factor (I can barely look at "combing your hair with the toilet brush") makes it really good fun to read. There's two more installments in the series: That's Mean! and That's Dangerous!, and I'm going to keep an eye out for them.


  1. Do kids really need encouragement for gross-out and potty humor?  I tend to think it’s part of a parent’s job to quash that and teach civilized behavior.  I imagine your daughter will find herself seriously short of playdates if/when parents hear her talking about how sticking your thumb in a cat’s bottom is disgusting.   Forget about the ramifications of quoting some of the rest of it in school.  Remember kids do have a penchant for saying the most inappropriate things at the most inopportune times.  Maybe, like Go the F*ck to Sleep, this is one for the dads to read on their own.

    1. Baaah. I bet you’d be a fun parent. 

      Kids are going to grow out of it anyway. They’ll get “civilized” soon enough. All too soon, actually.

      1. Al, actually, my kids and I are extremely close and no, they do not hate me.  I have a grown son and a middle school age daughter; both are funny, clever and smart.  They are also kind, well mannered, and respectful.  That doesn’t happen by accident.  (Of course, that comes from a firm and kind upbringing — I have never hit and seldom even raised my voice (I can count on one hand over 26 years of parenting.)

        And as a matter of fact, millie, I am a very fun mom.  We laugh and joke and are silly together but our humor tends towards dry wit, social commentary, memes and pop culture references — not gross out and scatological sniggering.  

        1. “We laugh and joke and are silly together but our humor tends towards dry wit, social commentary, memes and pop culture references — not gross out and scatological sniggering.”

          Heaven forbid. 

        2. Hi Lynda, you sound like a great mum, but you’ve COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN what they were like when they were four years old.

          Poo is hilarious at that age. Its the joke that just keeps on giving.

    2. The entire book is about indoctrinating kids as to what’s “disgusting” and socially inappropriate. I really would have thought you’d be on board with training your kid to shout “That’s disgusting!” when they see someone doing something “gross”.

      1. No…because that would be rude.   I wouldn’t want my kids to shout out something derogatory in reference to something someone else is doing.   Wow, who knew that teaching your kids proper behavior was such a rarity?

          1. Snide are we, dear?  So manners = pearls (and presumably silver spoons?)  So your kind of humor would = what?   By your logic…I don’t know, trailer trash?  It’s just as silly an assumption.  Manners cost nothing.  But being boorish closes doors.

          2. Do you really not see that the notion of ostracizing small children (and their parents) over a few juvenile poo-poo jokes at a playdate is abrasive to a few people?

            Gross/funny/embarrassing incidents are every bit as much a part of parenting as frilly dresses and lullabies. Parents who opt to guide their children through that phase of childhood with humour and candor still manage to raise pleasant, caring and intelligent persons. If you feel that casting out certain people over your own definition of ‘manners’ works for you, I guess you’ll carry on. But I’ll say the same to you as I did to the many high-school clique-queens and bullies I have met: You may not know exactly who you’re turning away, it may be for the wrong reasons and it may be your own loss.

    3. I imagine your daughter will find herself seriously short of playdates if/when parents hear her talking about how sticking your thumb in a cat’s bottom is disgusting.

      But only if those parents are humorless, right? Those are the kids who would probably most benefit from (the effects of) a book like this, and it’s our job as adults to *expand* the world of humor for future generations, not curtail it.

  2. I think anally assaulting a cat with your finger belongs squarely in the “that’s cruel” category, if not the “keep this child away from all pets and smaller children” category.

    1. Sticking your finger in the cat’s bottom – that’s toxoplasmosis!

      When your child sticks her thumb in your scottish fold’s bum, that’s amore!

  3. Unfortunately, my four-year-old daughter’s penchant for literalism makes me fear this would be used as an instruction manual rather than a deterrent.  (And the cat gets abused by her enough already.)

  4. Maybe, like Go the F*ck to Sleep, this is one for the dads to read on their own.

    Yeah, because everyone knows any sense of humour beyond Winnie the Pooh falls out with the placenta.

    Clearly, the people who are so baffled about the kid and the cat’s butt never had a very mobile, curious 11 month-old and a cat (hello, little funny perfectly round outlet drifting close to the ground!). Take my word for it: The cat takes care of itself and this particular little exploration usually happens only once.

    Poking animal’s (and people’s!) ‘socially delicate’ regions, spreading poo around and eating garbage is something normal little kids do all the freaking time. There’s no harm in putting the ensuing grossness and chaos down in a book and teaching the kid what’s disgusting and inappropriate with humour instead of sanctimonious outrage.

    1.  A cat’s anus is more of a physically delicate area than a ‘socially delicate’ area. I  hope your cat still has claws to protect itself from your unsupervised child.

      What would you think of a book that said “Sticking a pencil up your little brother’s butt– That’s disgusting!”

      1. Yes, dear. My cat, being a healthy, treasured feline, has winter-sharp claws and lightening-fast ninja skillz. Therefore, she lays down her law even faster than I can clear the 6 or-so feet that separates my neglectful-mother ass from my child.

        Rest assured that if my daughter was an especially violent child obsessed with poking creatures in the arse (or elsewhere), I’d be all over it. But she is well-adjusted, normal and good-natured.

        1. I apologize for saying your child was unsupervised. And I’m very glad you’re the type of person who wouldn’t punish an animal for defending itself against a child.

          1. Thank you for your apology (gratefully accepted). I have been around animals all my life and love them dearly. In my experience, as long as both animal and child are sound, healthy and reasonably monitored, they can interact and lay down their own little ground rules just fine.

            My cat’s authority also seems to outweight my own. As I mentioned, any pokety-poke my cat doesn’t approve of never happens again. But all my emphatic objections still don’t prevent my poor Wacom getting regularly brutalized ;)

          2. Hey folks, “like” this comment. Someone *on the internet* came back to a post to apologize for a hasty assumption.

            Pretty awesome cjporkchop.

            Hmmm, *I* got some ‘likes’, but I was referring to the cjporkchop / Sekino comments. Like them!

  5. Can’t believe I’m sharing this one…

    My dad loves to tell the story of the mastiff his friends used to own. I’d apparently follow it around constantly as an infant. I used it to facilitate my early walking – they’re sturdy, you know.

    One day I – ahem – inserted the spherical end of my xylophone mallet up its ass then promptly reinserted it into my mouth. I was very proud.

    Now that I have a pair of offspring it’s only a matter of time before they find out. Time, and a few beers.

  6. I have a copy of “That’s Dangerous!” because my sister was awesome enough to give it as a birthday gift. It is most definitely NOT a book for children; but it makes for an excellent coffeetable book and is poignant enough for some great conversation.

  7. Some children are fine without this type of humor and others go through phases where it’s amusing.  Nothing really wrong either way if the parents aren’t too uptight about it.  

    Since I just cleaned out a bathtub full of poo not more than an hour ago that my 16-month-old was trying to drink, I’m probably in the camp of wanting to buy this book to teach her just how disgusting that is. :)

    1. Nice idea for a book but, um, sexual assault isn’t funny, whether it’s against human or nonhuman animals.

      Oh, yes indeed!  Let’s go there!  Let us tut-tut over how toddlers sticking a curious finger or stick into the anus of a temporarily inattentive cat is sexual assault!  And then let us dismiss such an idea as utterly nonsensical, since a child’s inquisitive finger would go into a glove or a pitted olive or an uncovered electrical socket with equal degrees of innocence.  And then let us argue that the intent matters not at all, since all creatures great and small deserve the chance to live a long, full, happy life free of the risk of any unwanted intrusions into any orifices, except for the completely accidental (like when Puss backs into one of those springy doorstop things low on the wall).  And then let us argue that sexual assault is about power, not about lust or even juvenile curiosity, and when we assume that the kid in the diaper violated what Adam Carolla used to refer to as the kitty’s “behymen” in order to assert dominance over poor, li’l Fluffy it only cheapens and diminishes our outrage when an actual sexual assault occurs.  And then someone will have to point out that the cat probably won’t be too traumatized, and will “get over it” in short order.  And then someone will take that to mean that victims of sexual assault should learn to simply “get over it” if they know what’s good for them.  And then someone will remind everyone that the book is at least partially in the service of reminding kids that, as a general rule of thumb (heh), fingers don’t belong in heinies under most circumstances.  And then someone will half-jokingly assert they do belong there, and we’ll have to be reminded once again that none of this is remotely funny.  And around and around and around we’ll go.

      Okay, that should cover the range of the discussion, right?  I’m sure you all will let me know if I left anything out.

      1. I regret that I am unable to “like” this more than once without resorting to making up other screen names.

        Secondly: IMO, children who learn that it’s not wise to make Kitty’s arse a playground tend to not walk around as though they have a stick up their own arse once they grow up.

  8. If you haven’t, be sure to check out Pittau & Gervais’ other book “Elephant Elements”. It’s an elephant-based book of opposites; most are hilarious, some of them are poignant, and at least one is genuinely thought-provoking. All three of my kids loved it.

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