Thursday, 25 April 2013

Happy Birthday Dirty Bertie!

The 'Dirty Bertie' books by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts are celebrating their 10th birthday this week and we're delighted to be joining the blog tour party.

 I'll admit that my children's obsession with all things scatological is not my favourite part of being their parent. Don't even get me started on the stomach churning horror that is playing Bill at 'Plop Trumps'. But there is no doubt that they are obsessed and in this interest they Are Not Alone. Dirty Bertie is hardly the only literary boy with repulsive habits bidding for a place on mine or yours obsessed one's bookshelves, but as one of the first and one of the best, his is a birthday definitely worth celebrating.

I hadn't appreciated that DB (as we'll call him) started life as David Roberts' picture book creation before starring in his ever increasing range of early chapter book titles, now written by Alan MacDonald and still illustrated by David Roberts. The chapter books, with their punchy titles eg., 'Pants!' 'Germs!' 'Loo!' and new volume 'Toothy!' were among the first books Bill learn't to devour whole in one sitting as his reading took off. They were probably some of the first that he was moved to reserve at the library too; cue small figure appearing at desk and whispering "Excuse me, have you got 'Bogeys' please?" much to librarian's discomfort.

These books are actually rather gentler and less bodily function dominated affairs than their shouty covers might suggest. They follow the 'Horrid Henry' style format of having three stories per volume but parents and children who find Henry too horrid might well warm to the more diffident, accident prone Bertie. In 'Toothy' DB manages to confuse a dentist with a murderer, cause a major alarm on board an aeroplane and confront the difficulties of ice cream smuggling in school. But David Roberts' illustrations reveal Bertie as endearing round eyed, rosy cheeked ingenue rather than practised schemer and plotter and the trouble he invariably ends up in is not consequence free.

The two original picture books, 'Dirty Bertie' and 'Pooh, is that you Bertie?' are more straightforwardly gross-out and as such have been going down a storm with the Beanstalk kids I do reading help with this week. Who can resist a book that promises a different fart sound button on every page? Plus it turns out that many of the sounds associated with wind provide excellent phonic practice. Anyone entering the library where we read has been treated to the painstaking sounding out of essential vocabulary; t-r-u-m-p, p-oo-t and b-o-ff and (tricky word) ph-u-tt...

In honour of Dirty Bertie's birthday it seemed only fair to prepare a Dirty Bertie-style feast. The fellow reviewers weren't entirely convinced by the delights of my tenderly prepared Bogey Fondue with breadstick Finger dippers...

However, Pudding!(now there's a Dirty Bertie title I'm looking for) of Worms and Soil was a storming success.

"Any more worms Mum?"

Dirty Bertie books are written by Alan MacDonald and illustrated by David Roberts, published by Stripes and Little Tiger Press. Happy Birthday Bertie!

Disclosure: We were sent a few titles for the benefit of this post by kindness of the publishers. Our opinions are our own.


  1. Awesome!!! I daren't show C that worm pudding though, she'd probably want us to try and make it at the weekend.

    Brill post, glad you had lots of fun with the Bertie books!

    1. Surprisingly easy to construct. I'd long been wanting to try the jelly worm recipe...


  2. Fantastic Puddings! David Roberts came to talk on an Arvon course I was at. He is such a lovely person, so I'm a BIG FAN. He drew in front of us and made it look so deceptively easy.
    I immediately went & bought some of his books.

    1. He's brilliant- also loving his illustrations in the Sally Gardner 'Wings and Co.' books at the moment.

  3. We've had the picture books since before DG was born, they've been a huge hit with both my girls. It's been a while since we last read them but "No, Bertie, that's dirtie, Bertie!" has been a household phrase since we first found the books. Wonderful stuff, and I hadn't thought of the phonic-ness of the words before. I must get them out again now DG is older as she'll love them :-)

    1. Lots of nice chorus-able repetition- so both fun and supportive to read.