Monday, March 14, 2011

Manners Mash-Up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior

Confession: Once while playing a board game--and losing badly--I overturned the board, sending the tiles scattering in all directions. Sad to say, this happened when I was in my twenties. So clearly I could have used this book as a child and as an adult. Within its pages, fourteen illustrators tackle the tricky problem of showing kids how to behave in a given setting, such as the school bus, playground, doctor's office, etc. One setting not covered, I was disappointed to see, was the airplane. Not too long ago, on a seven-hour flight to Italy, I and other passengers aboard the plane were entertained by two tiny twin terrors in desperate need of this book's advice.

Note the word "goofy" in the title. The illustrators took it and ran with it. With a few exceptions, most of the illustrations delight in showing kids, animals, space aliens, and monsters acting up and completely disregarding the rules for good behavior. Sophie Blackall, for instance, illustrates proper behavior at the doctor's office. The rules are listed on a wall in the office. For "Don't Gawk" there's a little boy staring at a woman holding her head in her lap. "No Gurney Surfing" shows just that. "Prosthetic Legs Aren't Toys." Need I say more? The last spread, Tao Nyeu's "Please Don't Pick in Public" is a delicate embroidery of an indelicate subject. Various animals are shown, well, picking in public. Who knew there were so many body parts to pick at? A hippo picks its nose, a beaver its teeth, an alligator its scabs, and a bird in a tree its toenails.

My favorite illustration has to be the ghoulish "Table Manners" by Adam Rex, a perfect meshing of art and text. Click picture to view larger.

The book ends with the fourteen illustrators answering the question: "What was your goofiest manners mishap?" From throwing chicken bones at fellow diners to unzipped flies to dissing Santa, the illustrators  demonstrate why just about everyone could learn a thing or two about manners from this book. And, yes, "Always play by the rules" is covered in "Good Sports" by Tedd Arnold. So no more flinging Scrabble boards for me.

For other reviews, see A Fuse #8 Production and Book Aunt.

Manners Mash-Up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior
Illustrations by: Tedd Arnold, Joe Berger, Sophie Blackall, Henry Cole, Frank Morrison, Lynn Munsinger, Tao Nyeu, LeUyen Pham, Adam Rex, Peter H. Reynolds, Dan Santat, Judy Schachner, Bob Shea, Kevin Sherry
Dial Books for Young Readers, 32 pages
Published: February 2011

This week's Nonfiction Monday is at Chapter Book of the Day.


  1. I haven't seen this one yet - great review! I love the little speech bubble in the Adam Rex illustration that says, "We were raised in the basement." It gave me a good laugh. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  2. I didn't see this book yet, as well!

    Looks smashing ... I must check it our for my twins! I think they will have a blast with it.

    Oh, wait.. I see that you also reviewed Clementine, Friend of The Week... after I click on "Post Comment" - I must read that too!

    Read Aloud Dad