Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 12, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
David and his best friend Michael were tagged with awful nicknames way back in preschool when everyone did silly things. Fast-forward to seventh grade: "Pottymouth" and "Stoopid" are still stuck with the names — and everyone in school, including the teachers and their principal, believe the labels are true.
So how do they go about changing everyone's minds? By turning their misery into megastardom on TV, of course! And this important story delivers more than just laughs — it shows that the worst bullying isn't always physical . . . and that things will get better. A great conversation starter for parents to read alongside their kids!
Official Notice to Parents:
There is no actual pottymouthing or stupidity in this entire book!
(Psst, kids: that second part might not be entirely true.)
Can We Have Your Attention, Please? Didn't Think So
Welcome to the big speech where the whole school has to listen to me, "Stoopid," and my best bud since forever, "Pottymouth."
Actually, they don't let Pottymouth talk too much in public. Especially not with a microphone.
So, looks like you're stuck with just me.
And I bet you're wondering why.
Okay. Everybody here already knows us, right? We're Pottymouth and Stoopid, thanks to all of you. Those have been our nicknames since you gave them to us, like, forever ago. We're the class clowns.
No, wait. We're the class jokes.
Well, today you'll hear our real, true story. And we get to tell it our way. We might let some other people chime in, but it's mostly going to be us because, come on, this is our story.
I'll apologize to your butts now, because they'll be pretty sore from sitting here by the time I'm done. See, I'm going to start at the very beginning. Way, way back in the olden days when we were just little David and mini-Michael and our biggest problems were dirty diapers.
Now, everybody pay attention. Even you teachers.
You might actually learn some things you didn't know about Pottymouth and Stoopid.
You might also learn that some of the things you thought you knew are totally and completely wrong.
Stoopid: The Origin Story
Okay, the first time I met Michael Littlefield was in the second week of preschool. I remember that, even back when we were just four years old, Michael could crack me up like nobody else. What can I say? He always had a way with words.
"Poop!" he said when I showed him the picture of blue squiggles I'd dribbled off the tip of my brush. "Blue poop."
That, of course, made me giggle. So I told him my name. "I'm David!"
We toddled back to the art-supplies cabinet because I knew there was still some blue paint left in the jar.
Our teacher, Mrs. Rabinowitz—who always had a headache—wasn't really watching us or paying much attention to anybody. Except her favorite kid, Kaya Kennecky, a girl who came to pre-K every morning in matchy-matchy outfits complete with a matching bow in her curly blond hair.
While Michael and I played with the paint, Kaya sat in Mrs. Rabinowitz's lap reading a picture book about a caterpillar who was ridiculously hungry. So Mrs. Rabinowitz didn't see me dribble paint all over Michael's shoes.
"Poop!" he said. "Blue poop!"
Yes, back then, Michael liked to talk about pee and poop and poopypants because, let's be honest here, when you're a kid in preschool, bodily functions are hysterical. Underpants too.
"Booger butt!" Michael blurted and I cracked up.
Still laughing, I put the blue paint jar back on the shelf. And, yes, I forgot to screw the lid back on.
"Want red?" I asked.
He stuck out his left foot. "Red poop!"
I grabbed the jar of red paint. But the lid wouldn't come off. It was kind of stuck to the dried-out paint. It was like trying to twist open an antique tube of toothpaste.
I'd seen my dad, who was still living with us at the time, bang pickle jars on the kitchen counter when he couldn't twist their lids open. So that's what I did. I banged the jar of red paint against the wobbly steel shelf inside the art-supplies cabinet. I banged it so hard, the lid cracked and flew off. Paint sloshed out all over the place. And all that banging knocked the open blue jar off the shelf too.
Every inch of my hands, face, and clothes that wasn't already speckled red was splattered blue. Michael's clothes were a mess too. But his shoes—squiggly blue and splotchy red—looked incredibly cool (to a four-year-old, anyway).
"Awesomesauce!" we both yelled.
Kaya heard us and saw the disaster we'd made. "Mrs. Rabinowitz!" she hollered. "That stupid boy did something stupid!"
Since I was still holding the jar of red paint in my hand, it was pretty obvious who she was calling stupid.
"You're so stupid, David," Kaya cried. "You're just a stupid-head. You're so stupid, stupid, stupid! You're the stupidest boy ever!"
Everybody in the class started laughing and pointing and chanting "Stoopid," drawing out the oo sound. Mrs. Rabinowitz was busy trying to clean up my mess so she didn't have time to remind everybody that name-calling was strictly against the rules.
I, of course, wasn't laughing. What I did with the paint jars might've been dumb, but that didn't automatically make me stupid.
Except it kind of did. It made me Stoopid. With a capital S.
Well, to everybody except my paint-spattered partner in crime.
"You're not stupid, David," Michael told me. "You're my best friend!"
Stoopid: The Legend Continues
Things didn't get much better when Michael and I moved up to kindergarten.
Okay, they got way worse. I still did some dumb stuff, like calling the graham crackers we had for snack "grand crappers."
I remember the teacher, Ms. Stone, asked me if I could spell my mom's name. I said, "Yes! M-O-M."
Kaya Kennecky was still in our class. "That boy's name is Stoopid," she told Ms. Stone. "A lot of boys are dumb, but he's the stupidest boy in the whole world!"
We don't use that word in this class, Kaya," said Ms. Stone.
"Well, what do you call stupid people, then? Idiots?"
I did some other dumb stuff that didn't help my kindergarten reputation any. Once, when I needed Ms. Stone's help tying my shoe, she asked me, "What's the magic word?" I said, "Abracadabra."
When she asked me to try again, I said, "Shazam?"
But does that make me Stoopid or just, you know, a normal kid?
Actually, for a little while, I thought my teacher, Ms. Stone, might be sort of stupid herself. She kept asking us to name all the colors in the crayon box. Didn't she know what they were called? The names were printed right on the wrappers.
In kindergarten, I also had a lot of what they called "excess energy."
You know how some kids act at a birthday party after they eat ice cream and cake and chug soda to wash down all the jelly beans and Laffy Taffy in the goodie bags? That was me on a normal day. I just don't like sitting still, and, unfortunately, a lot of school involves sitting and not fidgeting.
I remember this time when Ms. Stone wanted us to sit on the alphabet rug on the letters of our first names.
I started on the D, got bored, scooted over to the A, then rolled over to the V. Ms. Stone told me she'd meant "just the first letter of your first name."
"Then he should sit on the S," said guess who. "For Stoopid!"
She got sent to the corner for that one, which only made her more determined to call me Stoopid every chance she got—just not in front of Ms. Stone.
I don't know why Kaya hated me so much even back then, but I've got to hand it to her: she tried super-hard to convince all the other kids to call me that, and it worked. After kindergarten, the name just sort of stuck.
There Are Worse Things in Life
After kindergarten that day, my mom picked me up in our clunker of a car, which I guess was further proof to my classmates (especially the ones like Kaya) that I was Stoopid!
The car was a piece of junk, but it wasn't our fault. My mom divorced my dad the summer before I started kindergarten, and he wasn't big on paying child support. (I'm sorry, but that's the truth, Ex-Dad, and I just told everybody I'd be giving them the real, true story of Pottymouth and Stoopid, so I can't cut you any slack.)
He was even worse at paying car support.
"Whaddaya need a new car for?" he'd say to my mom.
"To drive to the two more jobs I had to get so I can earn enough money to pay for everything you're not paying for."
"Well, I can't afford a new car for myself so I'm definitely not buying one for you."
"If you won't buy it for me, do it for your son."
"What? Why does David need a car? He's only four."
"Whatever. He's not getting a new car. He doesn't even have a driver's license."
"You're crazy, Anthony; you know that, right?"
"Of course I'm crazy. I married you, didn't I?"
(Hey, if you think my mom and ex-dad can bicker, wait till you meet Michael's foster parents. My folks are amateurs compared to them.)
As you can tell, things were kind of ugly back then between my mom and dad. I guess that's what happens right after you get divorced. They've been split up for seven years now, so things have mellowed a little.
Well, they had mellowed until, you know, the big surprise.
More about that later.
Anyway, I told Mom what happened at school. "All the kids are calling me Stoopid!"
"Sorry, honey-bunny," Mom said with a sigh. "But it's not the end of the world. Trust me, there are worse things in life than being called stupid by some dumb clucks in kindergarten."
I sat there and thought about that for a long minute.
Finally I asked, "Like what?"
Mom thought about it for only half a second. "Not being able to go to school because the car won't start."
Well, if you'd asked me right then and there, having to stay home from school for any reason sounded pretty great.
Pottymouth: The Origin Story
Let's jump ahead to third grade.
Michael and I were still in the same class. One day, we had a substitute teacher named Mr. Chaffapopoulos. I remember his name because Michael said it sounded like Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street.
Anyway, we were doing math. I was up at the whiteboard.
"Diana's mom gave her sixty-five dollars to go shopping," said Mr. Chaffapopoulos as I fidgeted with the dry-erase marker in my hand. "She bought a sweater for twenty-nine dollars, a T-shirt for twelve dollars, and a pair of shoes for fifteen. How much money does Diana have left?"
I knew it was a multistep problem.
I knew because those were, and still are, my least favorite kind.
The first thing I needed to do was write down all those numbers. I remembered the girl in the word problem started with sixty-five dollars. So I wrote 65 and a minus sign on the whiteboard.
"Um, how much was the sweater?" I asked.
I wrote 29 after the first minus sign and added another minus sign.
"How much was the T-shirt?"
He said it real slow, like he thought that was the only speed my brain would understand. Kids started snickering.
As I wrote 12, I started muttering to myself. "Short attention span, lack of focus, needs to develop better listening skills…"
It was all the stuff my teachers had written on my report cards in first and second grade.
I didn't want to ask what the girl in the word problem bought next because the sub would definitely make fun of me again. He didn't know anything about my short attention span because he was a short-timer himself. So I wrote another minus sign and just made up the final number: 7.50.
"Excuse me," said Mr. Chaffapopoulos. "What exactly did Diane buy for seven dollars and fifty cents?"
The classroom tittered in anticipation of my dumb answer.
"Um, dog food?"
The whole classroom burst into a big laugh. After the laughter peaked, the whole classroom started chanting: "Stupid, stupid, David is stupid!"
Mr. Chaffapopoulos tried to make them be quiet. It didn't work. Like I said, he was a sub.
This was when Michael exploded.
"Rrrrrggghhh, hicklesnicklepox! David isn't stupid, you flufferknuckles! He's my friend, so stick your grizzlenoogies in your boomboolies and leave him alone."
"Huh?" said Kaya, who was still in our class (we just couldn't shake her).
"Sit down, Michael," said Mr. Chaffapopoulos in his most menacing voice. "Sit down this instant!"
"Ah, sludgepuggle, you flufferknuckle! Sludgepuggle, sludgepuggle, sludgepuggle!"
Mr. Chaffapopoulos gasped in horror. "Enough! I'm writing a note to your parents, Michael." He started scribbling something on a small pink pad. "They need to teach you what words are appropriate to use in school and what words are not. Then they need to wash your mouth out with hand sanitizer, Mr. Pottymouth!"
"Ha!" laughed a bunch of kids. "He's Mr. Pottymouth!"
Yep. This was the day Michael became known as Mr. Pottymouth, which, in less than a day, was shortened to Pottymouth.
Michael's House of Pottymouthing
After school that day, we went to Michael's house. Mr. Chaffapopoulos had demanded that Michael have both his parents sign his pink note to prove that they had read and understood what was written on it.
Slight problem. Michael didn't really have parents. He had foster parents. That meant he lived in their house and the state paid them to take care of him. He's never met his real parents. Before foster care, he lived in orphanages.
He and I have both been wondering if his real folks would like to meet him now that he's kind of famous.
Well, if they do show up, Michael told me he's going to look at them and say, "Stick your grizzlenoogies in your boomboolies, you lazy flufferknuckles."
Where was I? Oh, right. Third grade. (See what I mean about my short attention span? There are gnats that remember stuff better than me.)
We walked into Michael's foster home with the pink slip. Mr. and Mrs. Brawley were both out of work back then. (Come to think of it, they're still both out of work.) The only money coming into the house was the cash the state paid them to take care of Michael and five other foster kids.
I'm not an expert on this stuff, but that day in the Brawley house, I think I figured out where Michael picked up his colorful language skills: the same place most pottymouths do. Home.
Since his foster parents didn't have jobs, they spent pretty much all of their time watching TV and fighting.
"Give me the @#$&% remote control, Shirley," his foster dad was saying when we walked into the living room.
"Why should I give you the @#$&% remote, you &@%#!?" answered his foster mom.
"Who are you calling a &@%#, you &@%#!"
I actually thought Michael's words—hicklesnicklepox, flufferknuckle, grizzlenoogies, boomboolies, and sludgepuggle—were way more inventive than the words his foster parents used. They were just saying the same old words all grown-ups say when things don't go their way or they hit themselves on the thumb with a hammer.
"I want to watch @^&*# Judge Judy," said Michael's foster dad.
"Because you're a !#&@*," said his foster mom. "Everyone knows Judge Joe Brown is a better @#$%+ judge than that $#@^& Judge Judy!"
While they were fighting, Michael saw his chance.
"Um, you guys?" He put the pink slip of paper on the tray table between them. "I need you both to sign this snifflefliggly thing."
"What the @^&*# is it?" asked his foster father.
"A &@%#! slip of pink paper," said his foster mother. "Are you &@%#$ blind?"
Furious, Mr. Brawley glared at his wife and signed the piece of paper without even looking at it. "At least I know how to spell my $#@%^ name!"
"I know how to spell your %$#@& name too: L-O-S-E-R!" Mrs. Brawley said as she glared back. Eyes locked, they were in a classic stare-off. Neither one wanted to be the first to blink or look away.
Yep. She signed the pink slip just like his foster father had—without even glancing at it.
Praise for Pottymouth and Stoopid:An instant New York Times bestseller!An IndieBound bestseller!
- "I have one word for this book: SUPERWONDERRIFIC!"
—Jerry Spinelli, Newberry Medal-winning author of Maniac Magee and Stargirl
- "This book is light and mighty. Funny and honest. And, in the words of one kid (who lives in my house), 'It's like he wrote about the people in my school (minus the limos and flufferknuckles, of course). Pottymouth and Stoopid is really, really good."
—Kwame Alexander, Newberry Medal-winning author of The Crossover
- "A deeply satisfying twist that turns two seventh-graders haunted by nicknames bestowed in preschool into culture heroes. Readers will applaud as the two best buds find themselves at the head of a veritable army of geeks and brains with similarly disparaging nicknames. 'Awesometastic!'"
- "Patterson and Grabenstein, the team behind the I Funny series, introduce two beleaguered but resilient seventh graders. As the boys struggle with their unfair reputations, the authors tackle bullies, unexpected friendships, and family troubles with comedy and poignancy. Gilpin's cartoons build on the story's many jokes, interludes from classmates and family members flesh out the boys' world, and the friends' hard-fought victory feels very well earned."—Publisher's Weekly
- "Pottymouth and Stoopid take on bullies and tough times with friendship and the power of funny!"
—Eric Kahn Gale, author of The Bully Book
- "Readers can't help but laugh at the antics David and Michael perform, but through their story, readers are shown that the worst bullying is not always physical."—School Library Connection
- "Readers will be amused by Pottymouth and Stoopid's shenanigans [...] Entertaining."—Kirkus
- "A funny, poignant tale of two quirky boys who suffer from years of endless teasing. Pottymouth and Stoopid triumph in the end, but only after reminding us how painful bullying can be. Boys are going to love this story."
—Dr. Michael Thompson, New York Times bestselling co-author of Raising Cain
- "Silly, insightful and triumphant...You'll remember this book and these boys for a long time."
—Carrie Jones, New York Times bestelling author of the Needseries, Time Stoppers, and co-editor of Dear Bully
- On Sale
- Jun 12, 2017
- Hachette Audio
- "I have one word for this book: SUPERWONDERRIFIC!"