Written by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Annick Press, Ltd, 1987
One day Andrew’s mother and father were taking him to see his grandma and grandpa. Before they put him in the car his mother said, “Andrew, do you have to go pee?”
What makes this book so dangerous? Use of the word ‘pee’
Andrew insists that he doesn’t have to pee, but one minute after leaving the house, he suddenly has to go immediately. They stop the car and he goes behind a bush to pee. At Grandma and Grandpa’s house, he wants to play in the snow but everyone wants to make sure he doesn’t need to pee before bundling him into his big snowsuit. Of course, just a few minutes after putting on the cumbersome suit and going outside, he announces that he has to pee. After dinner, everyone asks him if he needs to pee before bed and he tells them no. They put him to bed and wait for him to call that he does need to go after all, but he’s quiet. They assume he’s fallen asleep, but then he tells them that he wet his bed. So they change his sheets and put him back to bed and 20 minutes later, Andrew yells down to ask Grandpa if he needs to pee. When he says he does, Andrew says he does, too, and they go together.
Author Robert Munsch was having toilet training issues with his son (named Andrew) and he had an issue at a storytelling session when a boy in the audience started calling to his father that he needed to pee (and that boy was named Andrew, too). So Mr. Munsch made up this story on the spot, realizing that kids would get a huge kick out of a story about peeing. Within a week, his publisher was ready to release it as a book. It was a success as a mini book and the ending, where Andrew asks his Grandpa if he needs to pee, was added when the book was released in the bigger size. The illustrations, from Michael Martchenko have a comic strip feel to them and they add to the humorous tone of the story. This book was challenged for its use of the word ‘pee’ and in some places, was changed to read ‘I have to go to the bathroom’ instead. He also met with a lot of opposition when trying to publish Good Families Don’t, which was about farting.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that potty training is tough work and stubborn kids don’t make it any easier.