Aimed at kids 8 and up, Poop Happened examines how societies from ancient times to present day have had to confront the vexing problem of what to do with their waste. Readers will discover that the improper disposal of human waste has led to very bad consequences, namely, wars, disease, insect trouble, plagues, high infant mortality, heavy alcohol consumption, shortened stature, shortened life spans, cave-ins, explosions, asphyxiation, peasant revolts, and collapsed empires. To say nothing of extremely smelly city streets.
“What sounds like a keen grossout gimmick is actually an original premise, as Albee traces history, mostly European and American, through its sanitation practices and the consequences and benefits thereof. It’s therefore less a poop book than a poop-inspired social history, but the lively, browsable format and irreverent tone will keep the interest of kids who ordinarily might balk at historical exploration. The book touches on Roman plumbing and Renaissance bathing, Enlightenment sewage (both London and Paris had legendary Big Stinks), and Victorian disease, making a cogent argument throughout for the role of sanitation in allowing societies to succeed and even prosper. Page layouts involve quippily titled paragraphs and a multitude of illustrations, some of them contemporary cartoon drawings, others period art (some of it satirical as well); running sidebar features include “Icky Occupations,“ “Hygiene Heroes,” and “Too Much Information?” While a few questionable assertions slip in, the volume is surprisingly rigorous on a topic often choked with lore, and it’s got a refreshingly deep and savvy view of history (there’s a sharp observation that improved British standards of sanitation weren’t used to help colonial subjects, for instance). A lot of desperate students in search of a bearable history text will heave a sigh of relief at this, and other readers will find it a fascinating view of a little-traced historical component. The book closes with chapter-by-chapter source notes, and the bound book will include an index.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This self-proclaimed ‘number one book on number two’ takes readers inside the fascinating world of excrement, ranging across the historical spectrum from ‘Hellenic Hygiene’ to ‘How Do Astronauts Use the Toilet in Space?’ Albee’s focus is not only on bodily functions, but also on the larger public-health challenges created by mass urbanization in the ancient and modern world as well as the ability of societies to deal with these problems, which provides readers with an excellent introduction to social history. With a focus on the Western world in general and England in particular, the author touches on an array of topics from diseases such as cholera and plague to the development of increased sanitation in large urban areas such as London. The exciting format is comprised of a two-color (pastel green and blue) layout with numerous illustrations and photos. Interesting sidebars describe occupations and ‘hygiene heroes’ such as Edwin Chadwick and bathroom fashion. The fluid writing style ensnares and holds readers’ attention from beginning to end. By bringing history alive, this captivating work is without a doubt an essential purchase.” —School Library Journal