"Dudunya, if I may say so, you look like a pig." Dudunya replies, with what looks like a piece of prosciutto and a wet string bean atop his forehead, "Chester, dear, please excuse me." And so begins one of the most strangely informative dialogues you'll likely ever hear on the topic of table manners, subtitled "The edifying story of two friends whose discovery of good manners promises them a glorious future."
Chester and Dudunya's alter egos, Chris Raschka (Yo? Yes!) and Vladimir Radunsky (Yucka Drucka Droni), are--almost certainly--insane. But it's that really good sort of insane, the kind that sees through to life's deeper secrets, like the "16-Bite Potato-Eating Method" and the proper way to fold a napkin for the queen ("Only the Queen may wear her napkin as a crown!").
As Chester guides Dudunya through the mechanics of the mange ("Drinking without a glass... zebra style... ugly," "Dining without a napkin... wild boar style... filthy ugly"), Raschka and Radunsky's punchy illustrations and collages make sure that any actual learning going on doesn't interfere with the fun. And in a book filled with so many hilarious little details, you'll probably need to read it at least a few times to properly appreciate them all--except, of course, the "Shawarma Uncle" on "Chester's Chart of Full-Mouthed Speaking Accidents," which is pretty much impossible to pass by without laughing out loud. But then again, you'll probably want to study Table Manners carefully anyway, just so you, too, can be ensured of "a glorious future." (Ages 4 to 8) Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
This ever-so-cultivated manual, decorated with elegant script lettering, tablecloth gingham and snow-white doilies, praises courtesy while giving counterexamples of gauche conduct. The authors dispense the calls to etiquette in a stuffy style, ideally read with a clenched jaw ("Good Lord! The Queen is coming for breakfast! How will you fold the napkins?"), and a subtitle pledges to tell "the edifying story of two friends whose discovery of good manners promises them a glorious future." The companions are Chester, a "Virtuoso Eater" with a smooth blue jellybean of a head, and his untidy sidekick Dudunya, first pictured with a greasy green bean stuck to his bald pate. Dudunya asks plaintive questions ("But Chester, why a fork and knife?"), and Chester is glad to set a fine example. Brash, eye-jolting spreads track the conversation in an array of sharp colors and graphic typefaces; mock-helpful diagrams remind young barbarians to chew ("Chester's Chart of Full-Mouthed Speaking Accidents" displays a "glazed sister" and "cousin in cream sauce"), adding advice, with all the weighty importance of a family heirloom, never to speak with your mouth full ("This I learned from my father's father's father. One day you will pass this on to your children's children's children," says Chester). Readers also learn to say "please" and "thank you" in any of six languages. In a multiple-choice quiz about children's restaurant conduct, keeping one's seat always seems the "right" answer, but many desirable options e.g., chasing the waiter are in evidence. Typically, Raschka's (A Poke in the I) lissome brush strokes revel in free-spiritedness, and Radunsky's (Howdi Do) crazy-quilt collages and casual swats of paint lack even a trace of fussiness; together, these two are anything but uptight. Not surprisingly, this witty handbook dispenses the rules along with suggestions for breaking them. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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