Ever wondered what life was like before the invention of the toilet? This fun picture book tackles that issue in a fun, irreverent way. It is set in Ancient Rome and talks about the terrible smell in the city in the days before indoor plumbing. The Emperor has banned people from talking about the smell, or even using the word "poo", on pain of being chopped up and fed to dogs, for fear of offending the Empress' delicate sensibilities.
The Inventor, Vesuvius Poovius comes up with the idea of of a sewer system and toilets but can't talk about it because he doesn't want to use the forbidden word. Instead, he invites the royal couple to a party at his house and serves them an enormous, disgusting feast, including jelly fish crisps, sugared snails and other stomach churning treats. When the Emperor and his wife have to go, they use the new toilet and are wildly impressed with it. They order toilets installed in every villa in Rome and have a statue erected in Vesuvius Poovius' honour.
The toilet humour in this book is bound to appeal to kids, and there are little touches parents will like too, such as the soldiers having names like Numerus Twoous and Loous Bloous, reminiscent of Asterix comics or Monty Python's Life of Brian. If you're particularly concerned with children hearing reading about violence you might be worried about the line about chopping up criminals and feeding them to dogs but that is the only mention of violence in the story and it isn't shown in the illustrations.
The book could be used to spark a discussion with children about the fact that in many parts of the world people still don't have access to proper sanitation and clean drinking water and the problems this can cause. It could also be used as a fun introduction to talking about Ancient Rome and its customs.