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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Poop Happened! Written by Sarah Albee. Bloomsbury, Penguin (Canada) Group. 2010. $20.00 ages 10 and up

"Personally, I was tired of not reading about poop. Most history books just don't talk about it, but they should. Poop is important, and we can't afford to ignore it. Eliminating waste is something every living thing does. Figuring out how to deal with poop has been an issue since people started living in groups, and it's still an issue."

Any book that has 'poop' in its title is going to draw readers and fans. That being said, I hope that others will take the time to read much of what has been written is fascinating, to say the least. The table of contents lists eighteen sections, plus sources, and acknowledgements. Each section is organized into other sections that will attract interest, provide information and be accessible to its intended audience. There are historical bits, the whys for caring about such a topic, lists of terms used and some gross and disgusting facts that will make your head spin.

Lest you wonder why we are discussing 'poop' in historical terms, you need to know we have made progress but 'more than a third of the world's population - 2.6 billion people - still has no decent place to go to the bathroom.' Aren't we lucky? If the plumbing is bad, so is the news for people who must live with it...three of the four ways to catch a germ have to do with bad plumbing. Had enough? That is really only the beginning.

The author uses the history of poop to help us understand why waste removal is so important, as it affects the health of so many. Knowing just how many diseases are caused by poop makes you never want to read about that disease again. Do you find yourself wondering how knights in full armor relieved themselves? Take note that it took a squire an hour to get his knight suited up. Battles often lasted for hours...where would you go? Poor squire...not much fun cleaning up all the blood, never mind the sweat and poop. There are a lot of 'ewwws!' involved as you pore over this book...and there are many things I really didn't want to know. But, know them I do and I will probably not forget some of them.

The more you learn about the past, the happier you will be living now...with relatively clean bathrooms, and the ability to get rid of waste in privacy. Still, there are some facts that will 'plague' me for the near future: "In public bathrooms, you're better off drying your hands with a paper towel than using one of those hot-air dryers. Rubbing your hands under the hot-air device actually increases the bacteria flying around the bathroom and increases bacteria on your hands by 162 percent. Paper towels decrease the level by 29 percent." EWWWW!

Not only is there much information to read, there are also hundreds of illustrations. Some are cartoons, some archival photographs and posters, and some drawn to evoke an era in the history of waste and waste removal. It's a highly interesting way to look at the past!

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