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Manners Mash-Up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior Hardcover – February 17, 2011
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Echoing the concept behind Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? (2006) and Knock, Knock! (2007), 14 rising and established illustrators present their takes on good—and, more interestingly, bad—etiquette. Each gets a spread and a different locale: Bob Shea portrays a bus full of rambunctious animals; Lynn Munsinger crowds a cafeteria with pink pigs in school clothes; Tedd Arnold visits the “All-Alien Slimeball Championships” for observations about good conduct on any field of play; and contributions from others such as Sophie Blackall, LeUyen Pham, and Adam Rex offer busy scenes at the doctor’s office, a playground, the dinner table, and like common settings. The admonitions peppering each picture—most of which, despite an occasional exception such as “Don’t pick your nose,” follow along the conventional lines of “Don’t play ball in the house,” “No food fights,” and “Don’t have a tantrum in the candy aisle”—may not have much effect, but the illustrations in all their different and recognizable styles will amuse young audiences. Grades 2-4. --John Peters
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Featuring art by
Peter H. Reynolds
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--Bob Shea, "Bus Manners": Here the animals match the rule-breaking, for example, a snoozing bear demonstrates the opposite of "Don't soak your seatmate with sleep drool," while a giraffe doesn't do too well at "Try to keep your head in the bus."
--Lynn Munsinger, "Cafeteria Manners": Featuring a darling cast of pigs, this spread shows us how not to break rules like "Don't take all the deserts."
--Henry Cole, "Don't Stare At": This one is going to please the bathroom humor crowd. It takes place in the main office of a school and includes several key things that should not be stared at, such as "Funny Outfits" and "Gross Things on People's Faces."
--Leuyen Pham, "Playground Manners:" The chimps are throwing sand in the sandbox and a groundhog is hogging the ball, but there are some sweet ones here, too, among them "Always watch out for little ones."
--Peter H. Reynolds, "Classroom Manners": Young students demonstrating positive rules with dialogue in voice bubbles. For example, beneath "Ask nicely" a girl says, "May I borrow the purple crayon, please?"
--Tedd Arnold, "Good Sports": Here we get to see "The All-Alien Slimeball Championship" on some moon or planet... There are only four rules, each illustrated by a little three-panel cartoon strip. Though the rules are ordinary, the way they play out is not. Did you know eating the slime ball is against the rules?
--Adam Rex, "Table Manners": A mad scientist attempts to have a nice, civil dinner with Igor and a strange boy he apparently created in his lab. What possible response is there to his instruction to his lab assistant? "Igor--don't slouch."
--Judy Schachner, "Party Manners": At first glance, Schachner's style doesn't seem to lend itself to poop jokes, but they're there... She can't resist playing with the idea of party poopers! Best rule? Probably "Whack the piñata. Not your friend."
--Frank Morrison, "Be a Good Visitor": "Help out if you're asked" is a great idea, though "Don't play ball in the house" provides a more striking visual. I like the way the adults look like they're at their wit's end over the kids' antics.
--Sophie Blackall, "Good Behavior at the Doctor's Office": Sophie gets a little surreal with rules like "Prosthetic legs aren't toys." Watch for the child commandeering the receptionist's telephone.
--Dan Santat, "Proper Behavior at the Theater": Each rule at this opera performance has its own "do not" icon. You can imagine the one accompanying this admonishment: "Please don't pick your nose and leave the boogers under the seat...."
--Joe Berger, "Supermarket No-No's": Of course there's one about not racing the shopping carts, but my favorite has to do with playing in the produce section.
--Kevin Sherry, "Pool Rules": No unusual rules, but I like the artwork, especially the inclusion of a giant octopus who is just hanging out near the shallow end for some reason.
--Tao Nyeu, "Please Don't Pick in Public": The most astonishing thing about Nyeu's spread is that it's done in needlework. I think my favorite is the crocodile picking his scabs, with a mouse saying, "Ew."
The finale provides readers with a small self-portrait or photo of each illustrator with the answer to this question: "What was your goofiest manners mishap?" I especially like the image of a two-year-old Dan Santat throwing chicken bones at the other diners in a restaurant.
So there you have it--a detailed modeling of mostly bad manners which should nevertheless provide fodder for a classroom or family discussion of good manners. What exactly does it mean to be polite? Why do we have rules like that in the first place? And hey, just what's wrong with asking total strangers why they're fat? (You should probably get your finger out of your nose and say "excuse me" before you answer these questions.)