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What Do You Say, Dear? Paperback – September 25, 1986
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"You have gone downtown to do some shopping. You are walking backwards, because sometimes you like to, and you bump into a crocodile. What do you say, dear?" This is just one of the delightful hypothetical situations introduced by award-winning author Sesyle Joslin in this "handbook of etiquette for young ladies and gentlemen to be used as a guide for everyday social behavior." Maurice Sendak's quirky, comical illustrations are perfect for this old-fashioned, whimsical guide to manners. First published in 1958, this Caldecott Honor Book and ALA Notable Children's Book is a time- tested, fun way to teach your children important lessons. By the way, "Excuse me" is the proper response to the crocodile above! (Ages 4 to 8)
"Delightfully absurd situations and elegant and exceedingly funny illustrations. For this encyclopedia of manners, there is just one thing possible to say and that is, 'Thank you, thank you very much."--" The Kirkus Reviews"
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Top Customer Reviews
It's silliness incarnate, and you have to love it!
There are three scenarios in particular that reviewers have commented on, so let's tackle those.
The first is the "decapitation". In this case you're asked what you say when you're out picking flowers in front of your castle, a dragon appears and breathes smoke at you, and then a knight saves you by chopping off its head. (You say thank you.)
There's no blood or anything gory shown, and as far as I'm concerned the princess being saved from the dragon by the knight is a common fairy tale set-up. I don't have a problem with this. There are more violent scenes in both classic and recent Disney animated films, nobody is claiming the dragon was talking and friendly and just violently attacked - I have no problem with this scene for this age group. Let's move on.
The next one is where you are a cowboy. Suddenly the bad guy shows up and holds a gun to your head and asks "Would you like me to shoot a hole in your head?" (You say "no thank you", which strikes me as perfectly sensible.)
This one is a bit trickier. I'll be honest and skip ahead a bit by saying I, personally have no problem with ANY of this book - but in this case I can really see why some people do. The scene is a bit explicit, and the Western is no longer a popular form of drama anyway so it's not like this situation is likely to have come up in your child's play.
However, as nobody actually gets hurt, I'd say most kids won't even notice to be upset. There's more violent scenes on cartoons in the morning.
And the last one that people have complained about is the one where you're a pirate and have captured a lady and tied her up. Every morning when you untie her to eat breakfast she says "Good morning, how are you?" and you are supposed to say the same.
As far as this goes... meh. Clearly nobody is being particularly ill-treated.
Now, overall, I don't mind any of these scenes because I know quite a few children. This sort of thing and more is exactly what they come up with when they're playing pretend. If you think children do not play-act violence you are very much mistaken. They do. They do it because it's exciting. They do it because it's fun to practice being really bad in a safe way that doesn't actually harm anyone, when in real life they work so hard to be GOOD. They do it because these things scare them and playing them makes them less scary. They do because the stories they are exposed to have violence there, explicit or implied, and they want to understand that. They do because you can't have a good story without a villain.
And children have been doing this for as long as there have been children to play pretend at all. I do not believe that this is in any way linked to actual violence when these children grow up.
Obviously if your child is bothered by this sort of pretend violence, don't read them this book. Or if you are. However, truthfully, I don't think it's that big a deal in this context.