Everyone saw when Fiona had an accident. She should have gone to the bathroom sooner. Will her entire class laugh at her for the next 50 years?
Searching the topic of toilet “accidents” in children’s picture books, the cupboards seem bare in addressing the embarrassment of older children in a compassionate way. The shelves overflow with toddler books on potty training, giving up diapers, and the subject of poop. Wells’ Felix and Fiona series has taken on bullying and lying and now tackles bladder issues. Show-and-tell is, of course, the most exciting day of the elementary school year. Fiona and Felix cannot wait to present the volcano they have built themselves. On every page, Fiona is given the opportunity to use the bathroom, which she declines time after time. The tension slowly builds until the volcano literally explodes. The mortified Fiona quarantines herself in shame. Felix finds her. With the steady and sympathetic hand that brought Max and Ruby to life, Wells imbues these guinea pigs with the complex human emotion of embarrassment and provides the kind and gentle response that brings relief. Children will hear the message that accidents will soon be forgotten. Compassion is also shown with the depiction of both boy and girl (guinea pig) symbols on the gender-neutral bathroom’s door.
In multiple ways, this is a refreshing representation of a nearly universal experience. (Picture book. 5-8.)