CLOSINGNOTES

Books

Even a farting dog has his day

KARIN MARLEY April 26 2004
CLOSINGNOTES

Books

Even a farting dog has his day

KARIN MARLEY April 26 2004

Books

Even a farting dog has his day

KARIN MARLEY

Glenn Murray has spent months on tour promoting his Walter the Farting Dog picture books, so it’s no surprise that this Fredericton writer’s vocabulary is full of flatulence double entendres—it’s “burst” this, “little release” that, other things that “just don’t cut it.” He’s enthusiastic about the crude subject matter and is hoping others are too. “I feel like I’m in the primaries,” he says. “I’m building Walter’s constituency.”

It’s working—the pot-bellied pooch is gathering quite a following, despite his noxious habits. The second Walter book, Trouble at the Yard Sale—by Murray and co-author William Kotzwinkle—was released last month and holds the No. 1 spot on the New York Times children’s picture book best-seller list. The original book sits at No. 2. Another four instalments are in the making, complete with sound chips and scratch-and-sniff sections. Farting Walter toys will be available soon, and the authors are signing a deal for a live-action movie. “I’ve always thought Bill Murray should play Walter, without a costume,” jokes Murray, 51. “But that’s in the studio’s hands.”

Murray’s books are on a NYT best-seller list-but more importantly, they get young boys reading

Even with all this new-found fame, Walter remains a mutt with a mission—as well as emissions. After working for New Brunswick’s Ministry of Education for 20 years, Murray knows there’s no better way to get boys reading than to write about their favourite, often gross, subjects. “The literacy angle is a big element for me,” he says. “Finding a book that grabs kids these days is a challenge. Librarians and teachers love Walter because kids want to read about him.” And it’s not only six-year-olds who are in on the joke—at one reading in Toronto last year, women over 70 made up most of the audience. “Walter’s got appeal across the board,” says Murray. “We can all laugh at something we’ve been uncomfortable talking about. Now, all the energy that has gone into suppressing farts can go to something more worthwhile.”