Let’s face it, toilet humour is big with little people; farts are funny when you’re five and the super stinky burps made by the ‘gassy menaces’ the Mustard Twins in Mark Griffiths’ The Burp That Saved The World, illustrated by Maxine Lee-Mackie, certainly provided my group of five and six year old senior infants with quite a few belly laughs if perhaps not a whole lot of substance.
The Mustard Twins wreak havoc in their home town with burps so pungent they can fell a tree or stun a rhino, leaving the townsfolk fed up and weary. So much so that the twins receive a plainly written note ordering them to leave the town immediately:
Dear Mustard Twins, Go Away! Yours’s sincerely, Everyone x
The twins glumly pack their suitcases, about to leave, when the sky is suddenly filled with a swarm of alien spaceships intent on raiding planet earth. They succeed in hoovering up toys, sweets and games despite the efforts of the army and the navy to fight them. Re-enter The Mustard Twins wielding two shaken cans of pop to produce the most humongous burp, frightening the aliens and sending them scurrying back off into space. The twins are lauded as heroes and provided with medals and a party surrounded by adoring fans wearing T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘Poptastic’ and ‘I love my Pop’ before burping ‘God Save the Queen’.
Although The Burp That Saved The World is a bit of fun, it’s not a picture book I’d return to. Younger children would enjoy the colourful illustrations and silly narrative whilst the children in my senior infant class enjoyed guessing the second parts of the rhyming couplets in the text.
Touches like the signs on the alien spaceships like ‘GIVE ME SPACE’ and ‘HONK if you like getting neutralised’ provide the adult and the more able reader with an additional chuckle.