An “Accident” in Collection Management

Clouds and Clocks coverClouds and Clocks: A story for children who soil

Submitter: A book about a little boy who stops using the toilet.  The story is bland and a little uncomfortable, and the illustrations are extremely dated and uninteresting by today’s standards.  The medical content alone should have slated this book for weeding at least a decade ago.

Holly: This book isn’t soooo bad, but it is a little dated.  They use terminology that kids might use, although not all families use that kind of language when talking about bathroom issues.  I’ve seen lots of books about kids who wet the bed or their pants, but not a lot about “soiling,” as this book puts it.  Youth librarians – weigh in, please!  Is this unique, or are there lots of good books on this specific subject available?  A quick search of my library’s catalog reveals plenty of books about going to the potty and what comes out (and why), but none that focus just on “soiling” as this book does. What I really find weird about this book is the title.  I would have had no clue what it was about if not for the subtitle.

picture of kids

Andrew soiled himself

Andrew's problem got worse

Dr. Rachel explains digestion


  1. I’ve been a school librarian for 16 years and I’ve never seen a book about this subject for children. While there have been several children through the years who have had the problem, no one ever came to ask for a book about it. Maybe the school counselors have something.

  2. @LB – I’m sure it has something to do with relaxation. Andrew probably starts imagining clouds while he tries to poop.

  3. I’m a child psychologist and this is the ONLY book i’ve ever been able to find to use with kids who soil (and boy are there A LOT of them). It’s no perfect, but it at least helps kids who soil feel like they’re not alone.

  4. As someone who battled Irritable Bowel Syndrome (‘Spastic Colon’ I believe it’s known as on your side of The Pond) right through childhood, this might actually have been of some use to me as a kid. However, phrases like “Andrew went to the bathroom in his pants” would’ve confused the heck out of me – he has an actual bathroom in his pants?

  5. Why do Americans use ‘bathroom’ as a euphemism for lavatory? It’s usually only an upstairs room in a private house that doubles as both, yet US citizens will ask the way to the bathroom in public buildings. It’s even coyer than saying ‘Toilet’. Maybe that was what confused this kid in the book?

  6. Jen–pathetic! Though I don’t imagine children’s nonfiction writers jumping at the chance to improve on this topic. Books like this are so text-dense for a read-aloud! Maybe the kids’ eyes glaze over, they relax, and go!

  7. Not being a native English-speaker, I reacted to the sentence where he “went to the bathroom in his pants”.
    This, to me, sounds like he stood up, left class and walked into the fysical bath-room without removing and leaving his pants in the classroom…
    Yes, a bit absurdly written text, but nothing to worry about for teachers and classmates.
    A bit later I realized that “going to the bathroom” is an eufemism for “doing bathroom-related business”, and everything made sense again.

    But thankyou a lot for the image of a society where people remove their clothes before wandering naked through the corridors looking for a toilet.

  8. @Ralph–they call it a bathroom because that’s the word for it there. Lavatory (or washroom for that matter, as public ones are called here) is as much a euphemism, and sounds exceedingly prim to those who don’t use it in everyday speech. The toilet is the appliance and the bathroom is the room containing it. You might as well get upset with people asking where the kitchen is when what they really want is the fridge.

  9. Ralph –

    What about “restroom”? “Powder room”, “ladies’ room” or “men’s room”? Or even “the head”. I think just “toilet” sounds a bit crass, even though that’s usually what we ARE doing in there. We all know it, but it doesn’t mean we have to graphically advertise it. What would you rather hear in a restaurant, “Where is the restroom?” or “Where’s the toilet?” Same thing, just “restroom” sounds better. The restroom/bathroom/washroom/WC, etc. can be for all “personal” business, even just washing hands or fixing your hair.

  10. Well, obviously, they can’t say, “After a while, Andrew sh*t in his pants.” I’m not sure how you could word that in a way that’s both polite AND makes it clear to the kids what happened.

    I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of there being a modern book for children who suffer problems of the lower intestine (irritable bowels, ect.) If you look hard enough, there are children’s books about *everything*.

  11. I think “Andrew pooped his pants” would be good enough.

    As a child I had numerous bladder and kidney surgeries due to genetic disorders, I also have IBS. I often had accidents. I probably could’ve used a book like this. And I’m sure kids now adays could.

    Though I think this needs a serious update.

  12. If this is the only book on the subject it might be something a self-help or education publisher should update. It would have a built-in if small audience.
    “one fish two fish poopy poo fish?”

  13. I have worked in the Children’s Room of a public library for over 20 years and have never once seen this book, or anything like it. However, I have also never been asked about a book on this topic, so I think it’s good to weed. The title and cover illustration are very misleading, it almost seems to be about God or heaven.

  14. This book was a mystery and a topic of discussion in our home for years.

    My son, a frequent flier to the principal/counselor due to his active, clowning ways, saw this book on the shelves in the office. He was limited to Timmy the Hyperactive Turtle but what was this? A book about…pooping?

    For someone who loved all things related to toilet humor, it was intriguing.

    Also, off limits.

    What did Clouds and Clocks have to do with pants pooping? he asked at dinnertime.

    What was the plot? How did the book end? Being that this was one of the few areas where my son was not having problems, the school counselor firmly stated that the book would remain on the shelf.

    I’ll have to tell my adult son (who grew up just fine) what surprise appeared on this site.

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