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The nose knows: New children's book isn't for the faint of fart

A taboo topic has been turned into Tootsee McGootsee

You can usually identify a family member based just on how they walk. But can you also recognize them by how they fart?

Author Kevin Rooney has some experience with this.

His new book Mr. Tootsee McGootsee came about because of his two daughters Erin and Shealah. When one of them would pass wind Rooney would say “There’s Tootsee McGootsee.”

It was his way of letting them know it’s okay to fart, just excuse yourself from the dinner table if you’re going to do it.

Rooney now lives in Fort Myers, Florida, but is originally from Guelph, which continues to have "such a huge place in my heart just because I grew up there."

He sat on the story for the last three years and it lived on a flash drive, and he would occasionally take it out to read and adjust.

The story is about a well-dressed man who walks around town and sometimes lets out a fart. People give him disgusted looks so he changes his tune and toots in the bathroom. Although Rooney's daughters love the book, they don’t want him to come to school and read it in their classes.

“I know it could be … considered a taboo subject, but we're talking about tooting and … everyone does it,” said Rooney.

Rooney’s sister, who lives in Cambridge, wants him to read the story via Zoom to her son’s class.

“It's a theme that can resonate with … young readers,” said Rooney.

“Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously. I’m glad to have been able to do it. And I’m honestly super stoked to keep bringing the other books out … because they all have really kind of special meaning to me and to the girls,” he said.

He has four other children’s books coming and he is working on a chapter book with his oldest daughter. 

Like any good Guelphite, Rooney knows Robert Munsch.

“In my hand I'm holding up one of my prized possessions,” said Rooney: A signed copy of Munsch’s book Jonathan Cleaned Up – Then He Heard A Sound. That sound wasn’t a fart.

Although Munsch does have a book about passing gas called Good Families Don’t.

Rooney had his Munsch book signed during a lunch hour at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School when he was in Grade 2.

Rooney’s book came to life after he had a voice actor from Northern Ireland read the book. A nod to Rooney’s Irish heritage can be seen on McGootsee’s lapel. You guessed it—a four leaf clover.

He had an illustrator draw Mr. Tootsee McGootsee for the book. When he showed his daughters they exclaimed “that’s him!”

There are other Easter eggs throughout the book Rooney made sure were there for his daughters, like their initials, a Canadian flag and the street number of their house. 

When Rooney put out the book on Amazon he said he was a little naïve because “oh my God there's so many books about farting and some of them are probably more crap than others.” The book can also be found on his website.

He recalled a specific memory about farting that his family retells often.

On a family vacation in the cottage country of Southampton there was a sewage backup in the area and a company had to clean out the septic tank. 

“And my recollection of it was, it was either because of the gaseous fumes that we kind of inhaled because we were curious kids and we were there watching this whole thing kind of take place,” Rooney said.

Then at the cottage he doesn’t remember who farted but “my brother basically inhaled the fart,” he said. His brother was sick immediately and went to the bathroom to throw up.

“And the rest of the trip every single one of us got sick. And I'm like, I don't necessarily attribute it to farting per se. But it’s certainly involved in that because one of us got really sick after it happened. And we ended up having this whole experience of being on a family vacation where it kind of went south in a hurry. But it's one of my fond memories, that every one of us got sick on this trip and that was the reason,” he said.


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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