The Kids Are All Right

Potty Humor, Summer Reading, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! Are you doing any summer reading challenges? We are participating in two: Tristar Reads, a Tennessee reading challenge where kids can win a college scholarship for $1,000, and Nashville Public Library’s summer reading challenge. This week I review two phenomenal new releases and picture books for kids who love potty humor (isn’t this every kid?).

Before I get to that, are you looking for fascinating stories, informed takes, useful advice, and more drawn from our collective experience as power readers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and bookish professionals? Subscribe to The Deep Dive, a biweekly newsletter to inform and inspire readers, delivered to your inbox! Your first read (The Power Reader’s Guide to Reading Logs & Trackers) is on the house. In one such newsletter, Danika went down the rabbit hole investigating the history of scratch-and-sniff books. Check out all the details and choose your membership level at

Bookish Goods

Summer Reading Challenge for Kids by McMaglo Creates

Summer Reading Challenge for Kids by McMagloCreates

If you’re looking for summer reading challenges now that school is over, I really like this set, and the printouts are so colorful! $4

New Releases

Cover of The Many Masks of Zhou Cheng

The Many Masks of Andy Zhou by Jack Cheng (middle grade)

I am almost finished listening to this beautifully written and contemplative middle grade on audio, and I am loving it. I originally thought it was a fantasy based on the cover, but it is contemporary fiction about a Chinese American 6th grader starting middle school, and his tumultuous path to navigating friendships and finding where he belongs in middle school. Andy is the kind of congenial kid that tends to follow along with what his friends say, and while that worked in elementary school, it’s not working out in middle school. His best friend Cindy wants to join the dance club Movement, but Andy doesn’t want to dance in front of people. He makes a new friend Jameel, a Chaldean American, but Andy often can’t tell if Jameel is bullying him or not. Meanwhile, his grandparents are visiting from Shangai, and his grandfather is not doing well. This is a bit of a slow burn compared to other middle grade novels but I am just loving its complexity and nuance.

Cover of Before Colors by Pimentel

Before Colors: Where Pigments and Dyes Come From by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Madison Safer (picture book)

This nonfiction picture book provides an in-depth, fascinating exploration of pigments and dyes. I learned so much! It’s divided by colors and each color has a lyrical introduction, a related question with a detailed answer, a mini-biography of a colorful character, and sources for making that color. For example, the Green section explains how color blindness works, gives a full-page bio of Juana Gutiérrez Contreras, a Mexican dye-maker for her family’s rug-making business, and lists what plant sources green dye is made from. This is a physically large book, very well researched, and beautifully illustrated. Also check out Pimentel and Safer’s first nonfiction collaboration in this series, Before Music.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Listen, it may not be refined or literary, but nothing gets my 5-year-old laughing and requesting books over and over like potty humor. Potty humor is ALWAYS a hit with kids. Here are four of my favorites, all picture books.

Cover of The Boy Who Cried Poop by Requena

The Boy Who Cried Poop! by Alessandra Requena, illustrated by Guilherme Karsten

This hilarious and relatable picture book is based on a true story. A family is looking forward to swimming in a pool on vacation, but when father, daughter, and son make it to the bottom of 168 stairs and into the pool, Marc, the son, declares he needs to poop. So back up the stairs they go, then back down when Marc says he no longer needs to poop, then back up when he claims he once again needs to poop. This back-and-forth culminates in one messy accident at the pool. But instead of this being a moment of shame, other pool-goers relate their own poopy accidents, helping Marc feel better and realize that everyone has poopy accidents sometimes.

Cover of I Made These Ants Some Underpants by Wilder

I Made These Ants Some Underpants! by Derick Wilder, illustrated by K-Fai Steele

Wilder and Steele first teamed up on the butt-themed picture book Does a Bulldozer Have a Butt?. In this equally absurd and silly picture book, a child decides to make custom undies for all kinds of creatures and objects after receiving a set of underwear from his mom. He crafts undies for the piggy bank, for a clownfish, for a boomerang, a zombie, and more. Really, doesn’t everyone, and everything, need some unique underwear?

Cover of Clayton Parker Really Really REALLY Has to Pee by Paul

Clayton Parker Really Really REALLY Has to Pee by Cinco Paul, illustrated by Gladys Jose

Before leaving for a school field trip to the zoo, Clayton Parker’s teacher tells everyone to go to the restroom. Does Clayton go? No. Before the bus has gone very far, Clayton feels that need to pee. Dr. Bladder gives some information about what’s going on in Clayton’s body. By the time Clayton gets to the zoo, he meets one obstacle after another in his search for relief. This rhythmic and funny read aloud is perfect for preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Cover of Who Wet My Pants? by Shea

Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Bob Shea’s books always get big laughs, and this one is no exception. When Scout leader Reuben the bear brings donuts to share with his troop, his friends point out the big wet pee stain on his pants. Instead of admitting he had peed his pants and changing, he decides to blame everyone else. Clearly, someone else has peed his pants. Withholding the donuts, he interrogates all his friends, who calmly reassure him that accidents happen. This is another picture book that combines potty humor with reassuring themes of body acceptance and empathy.

Marian standing in swing, The Kids Are All Right

At the playground this weekend, we overheard a mom admonishing her child to not stand in the swing. My daughter waited until the mom had left and I was talking to a friend to sneak over to the swing and stand in it, to see what all the fuss was about. She needn’t have bothered with the stealth — I don’t see what the big deal is! As long as no one is getting hurt, the playground is her space.

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury