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BELLY BUTTON BOY by Peter Maloney


by Peter Maloney & Felicia Zekauskas & illustrated by Peter Maloney & Felicia Zekauskas

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8037-2542-6
Publisher: Dial

Everyone knows a boy like Billy. He doesn’t care to bathe, and his favorite retort is “Dirt doesn’t hurt!” After digging in the dirt at home and playing in the sand on the beach one particularly grimy day, Billy finds his navel is full of sand and “all kinds of things that boys will dig up” (a humorous, labeled diagram of the layers of crud illustrates the discovery). Is that a leaf sprouting out of Billy’s belly button? It is, followed by more leaves, a longer vine, and then a full-fledged bush. Billy’s doctor refers the leaf-covered lad to a landscaper, who transplants the belly-button bush into a pot and advises Billy to keep his navel clean. This rather silly story is written in singsong rhyming couplets and illustrated by the authors in a bright cartoon style in pencil and gouache. Though adults might find the story inane, some kids (especially those in the anti-bath stage) will find it hilarious, with the potential to become one of those “not that one again?” books that the child adores and the parent would prefer not to read for the 33rd time. Of course, there is the obvious bibliotherapeutic use for the filthy child who will not get in the bathtub, and there actually is a demand for books in the early elementary grades on the popular subject of seeds. (Yes, humor has a place in the elementary science curriculum, or it should.) Not a first choice for all collections, but a book that grows on you, especially if you’re six and hate baths. (Picture book. 4-8)