Let’s face it: butts, buttocks, bottoms—whatever term you prefer—are funny. Cute animals are always a hit. Put them together, and you have the delightful Animals Brag About Their Bottoms. Published just this year by the children’s imprint of Canada based publisher Greystone Books, this beautifully illustrated and cheeky picture book is a wonderful read aloud for children and adults. I read it a few weeks ago in the weekly Zoom story time I do for my church, and the toddler, the kindergartener, the pastors, and the retired librarian in the group all thoroughly enjoyed it.
Starting on the cover, a diverse cast of animals present their posteriors for the reader’s appraisement. “Look at my bottom!” says a small rabbit on the title page. Their bottom is round and cute, but the hippopotamus has a round bottom as well, even if it is much bigger. One by one, or in a group, all sorts of animals line up so that we may best see their bottoms: an elephant, a tiger, an okapi, a herd of deer, a flock of sheep, and others. It’s an impressive display of stripes, patterns, shapes, colors, and textures. There is a list of the animal bottoms in order of appearance at the end of the book, should some of them prove a bit difficult to identify solely from their backsides. No matter the animal, they all have “such wonderful bottoms—each and every one!”
Originally published in Japan in 2018, Animals Brag About Their Bottoms is writer and illustrator Maki Saito‘s first book to be published in English. Saito’s illustrations are uncluttered, focusing instead on the animal and what makes its bottom special. Her use of paper collage, stenciled paintings, and dyed paper lend an almost textural look to the illustrations—one can almost feel the rough and tough texture of the rhinoceros’ rump! Translator Brian Bergstrom has rendered the text with an almost gentle cadence. The animals brag about their bottoms, yes, but only because they are confident in who they are, not because of mere braggadocio. This book is actually a lovely ode to body positivity. A bottom can be big, rough, small, or fluffy, but all bottoms are good bottoms.
Written by Maki Saito
Translated from Japanese by Brian Bergstrom
Greystone Kids, 2020
Originally published 2018, Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers
Klem-Marí Cajigas has been with Nashville Public Library since 2012, after more than a decade of academic training in Religious Studies and Ministry. As the Family Literacy Coordinator for Bringing Books to Life!, Nashville Public Library’s award-winning early literacy outreach program, she delivers family literacy workshops to a diverse range of local communities. Born in Puerto Rico, Klem-Marí is bilingual, bicultural, and proudly Boricua.