Oink: Or, Well … That’s One Way to Clear Out a Bathroom

h1 April 10th, 2019 by jules


To call the humor in David Elliot’s Oink understated is … well, an understatement. For instance, the book’s big joke (which is exceedingly funny in its restraint) hinges on a few small wavy lines from Elliot. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. First, the basics. …

Oink is a picture book import from New Zealand; it looks like it published there in 2018 and is now on shelves here in the States, thanks to Gecko Press. David Elliot, in fact, lives there and is not to be confused with the talented American David (with two “t”s) Elliott.

You could perhaps call Oink wordless, but it’s only mostly wordless. A pig, towel in hand, heads to the bathroom. A tub awaits. There’s nothing like a warm bath, right? Pig climbs the tiny ladder next to the tub (I love that there’s a tiny ladder) and settles in oh-so happily. The pacing here is leisurely; we get to take some time watching Pig enjoy the peace and quiet. Suddenly, though, there are two knocks on the door. It’s Sheep, who jumps in the tub. Eventually, Cow also enters and joins the bath, as well as Horse. In a book that would make a mighty entertaining read-aloud in elementary classrooms all over the country, each animal utters their unique animal sound. “Moo?” asks Cow, for example, standing at the door with a beach ball, no less. “Maaa!” responds Sheep excitedly, already crowding out the tub a bit.

At his site, Elliot writes:

Oink is a simple little book based on the idea of intonation… how the same words (or in Oink’s case, animal noises) can mean different things depending on how they are said. ‘Moo?’ can mean ‘Hi, can I get in too’ or ‘Mooooo!’ – ‘How dare you!’ The clues are in the expression on the face, the body language and the situation.

Remember how happy Pig was to have some alone time in a relaxing bath? That smile turns into consternation as soon as Sheep barges in. The furrowed brow intensifies until, in the book’s climax, we see all four animals, crammed into one tiny tub, water sploshing everywhere. “Maaaa!”s, “Hee haw!”s, and “Mooo!”s fill the air. Pig has had enough. Enter the book’s big joke and Pig’s solution to the problem.


(Click to enlarge)


Small wavy lines emanate from the center of the tub. We all know what that means. Now, call me fuddy-duddy if you want, but I’m not one who is a huge fan of fart jokes in children’s books. (I have my reasons.) I mean, they’re fine. Whatever. Okay. But we Americans tend to try a bit too hard with them. Elliot merely resorts to these few wavy lines. And the results are very, very funny. The look of horror on the animals’ faces! The look of feigned surprise on Pig’s! Accusations even fly (again, in the form of animal sounds, which will have child readers deliciously sussing out subtext), while all the while, Pig stays in the same spot, waiting patiently. There is even a rimshot of a joke on the final page that I normally wouldn’t want to ruin for you, but if you’re interested, it’s the final illustration pictured below.

Ah, Oink. You are genuinely funny and refreshing. And how I love the mischief in the tale. Elliot communicates abundant character and emotion with his relaxed-line drawings and sunny watercolors. Can we see more of his books here in the States? Please?

Here’s some more art. Hold your nose. And enjoy …



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

OINK. First published by Gecko Press. © Gecko Press Ltd 2018. Text and illustrations © David Elliot 2018. First American edition published 2019 by Gecko Press USA. Illustrations used by permission of publisher.

3 comments to “Oink: Or, Well … That’s One Way to Clear Out a Bathroom”

  1. This illustrations are ADORABLE. Also, I DEFINITELY think Americans do too much with the fart jokes, but THIS works so well.

    Seriously, if you want to bathe alone…

  2. I can’t wait to see (hear? smell?) this new David Elliot book. I also can’t wait to see the other David Elliott’s new poetry book (Candlewick, 2020) which I’ve had the pleasure of illustrating! It’s titled “In The Woods.”

  3. Rob, that’s a good combo!

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.