Ottawa

School halts 'Fartsalot' author's reading

The author of a popular children's book about a character named Sir Fartsalot had a reading at an Ottawa public school cut short on Monday over language the principal found objectionable.

The author of a popular children's book about a character named "Sir Fartsalot" had a reading at an Ottawa public school cut short on Monday over language the principal found objectionable.

Ottawa author Kevin Bolger, known for his book, Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger, was a few minutes into reading from a new book when Shari Brodie, the principal at Manor Park Public School, pulled him aside for a talk.

Brodie then told the nearly 200 children the session was over because some words Bolger had used were inappropriate.

Superintendent Barrie Hammond said the principal was concerned about a character in the new book called "Mrs. Imavitch, which rhymes with a derogatory word.

"She was a little concerned about what might be interpreted by the kids of the language," Hammond said.

"They've been working hard this year on their character initiative … [on] respectful language to one another. She just felt that with the age range of the kids it was better that they not discuss that today until they could put the whole thing in context."

Sean Wilson, artistic director of the Ottawa Writers Festival, which organized the reading, said the principal was also concerned about the word "fart" in the title of the author's popular book.

Books a hit with kids

Wilson said Bolger is the most-requested children's author for its free talks and that he has already spoken at six schools without incident.

"He is a teacher himself and I'm sure he knows that he's walking a fine line with the book between what is acceptable and not," said Wilson. "But I do know that [at] all of the other schools we've been to, and all the schools he's been to, he's been a real hit."

Don Fex, manager of the children's section at the Chapter's bookstore in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Gloucester, said Bolger's books are popular with kids and parents have come to accept their particular brand of humour.

"You get the odd eye-roll from a parent, [because] it's bathroom humour, but at the end of the day they're just happy their sons and daughters are reading," said Fex.

Bolger declined to speak about the incident. He is scheduled to speak at seven more Ottawa schools on his current reading tour.