Mind your Ps and Qs

   Manners Count everywhere! Whether at home, school, grocery store, online, riding bikes, on the phone, or on the field … good manners show respect, courtesy, kindness, and responsibility.

Web links to additional information and activities about manners follow these reviews.

Contributor: Peg Glisson


Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids

Emily Post and Cindy Post Senning

This practical guide to eating together without “grossing each other out” will be appreciated by parents and kids alike. Humorous cartoons throughout the text keep the mood light. Sidebars fill in special information such as a list of foods sometimes eaten with a fork or fingers and how to use chopsticks. It is recommended that kids come to the table with shirt, shoes, and no cap. When visiting a friend, check to see if the family says grace. At a formal dinner the utensils are used starting on the outer edges. Specific directions are given for eating corn on the cob, French onion soup, shish kebob, and other special foods. Eating together is also a social occasion. Twelve tips for table talk are listed and what topics to avoid. Manners are adjusted to fit various situations such as eating in the school cafeteria, at a potluck, at a picnic, or at a holiday meal. Suggestions from planning to cleanup are given for times you want to be the host. Kids and their parents will find support for pleasant mealtime manners from the daughter and granddaughter of Emily Post, the doyen of manners of the previous generation. 2009, /HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Carlee Hallman (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780061117091

Etiquette & Espionage

Gail Carriger

Carriger enters the foray of young adult literature with this debut steampunk novel set in Victorian London. Steampunk is a reference to a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that includes steam-powered machinery, and we learn early on that our main character, Sophronia, is a curious young lady and likes to tinker with machinery. Her very proper mother is vexed and at her wits’ end dealing with Sophronia’s antics. She has other children to prepare for the world of marriage and accepts a proposal for Sophronia to attend finishing school. From the very beginning, things are not what they seem, and finishing school is not what Sophronia expected. Besides learning how to curtsy, bat her eyelashes, and use a handkerchief properly, she learns how to distract enemies, use various weapons, and be deceitful. During her first semester at school, she befriends interesting characters, including a young girl masquerading as a lad, a “sootie” that works in the boiler room, and a peer that faints whenever she sees blood. Together, they must figure out what mysterious prototype is being sought by disreputable fellows before their school is attacked or her family harmed. The richly detailed world of Etiquette and Espionage will appeal mostly to readers who like historical settings with elements of science fiction and fantasy blended in, as well as some paranormal. While the language is not difficult to read, readers will rely heavily on context to fully understand the terminology throughout the story. This is book one of a trilogy. 2013, Little, Brown, Ages 12 to 18, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Valerie Burleigh (VOYA).

ISBN: 9780316190084

The Lion’s Share

Matthew McElligott

McElligott (Absolutely Not) is a triple threat: a sturdy storyteller, a stylish draftsman and a thoughtful wit who makes math funny. Eight animal guests devour the cake served at the lion’s royal feast, each taking half of what’s on the plate as it is passed; by the time it reaches the lion king, his portion has been reduced to crumbs. The virtuous ant volunteers to make amends by baking a cake, whereupon the others, anxious not to be shown up, successively double her offer, finally reaching a bid of 256 peanut-butter pound cakes from the elephant (McElligott lays out all 256 as a visual aid). The math content enriches the story but doesn’t overshadow the hero, the gentle and considerate ant. Grids and square panels of diminishing size used as design elements reinforce the content and are attractive in their own right; subtle grids can be found within the compositions as well. Able characterizations multiply the laughs; the gorilla, in sunglasses, looks a lot like Jack Nicholson. 2009, Walker, Ages 4–8., $16.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780802797681

Manners Mash-up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior: Story and Pictures

Tedd Arnold

In keeping with the collaborative approach of Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? (BCCB 11/06), this high-spirited picture-book look at manners showcases the talents of fourteen illustrators, each of whom get a spread to explore a particular area of behavior. Subjects range from proper cafeteria etiquette (as demonstrated and flouted by Lynn Munsinger’s perky pigs) to classroom manners (in Peter H. Reynolds’ room of preternaturally polite pupils) to good behavior when visiting (Frank Morrison’s kids, both guests and hosts, seem to be having a whale of a time, much to the adults’ horror). Readers will reserve their greatest appreciation for the most transgressive spreads, such as Kevin Sherry’s pool scene awash with wide-eyed miscreants (including one youngster standing serenely in the shallow end amid a spreading cloud of yellow) and Tao Nyeu’s deceptively demure embroidered scene filled with animals picking everything pickable on the body, from toenails to belly buttons to noses. Styles obviously vary, but the spreads favor busy compositions with lots of focal points, with text interpolated at relevant points. Some entries are a little earnest for the titular goofiness, but there’s plenty of amusement and a fair bit of real truth in the lessons, which should give readers some gentle reminders as well as giggles. . 2011, Dial, Grades 2-4, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9780803734807

Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell

Crickett Rumley

Jane Fontaine Ventouras may have spent her early years in her mother’s ancestral home in Bienville, Alabama, but after getting expelled from thirteen boarding schools, she is not the type of girl one would expect to represent the Old South on Bienville’s Magnolia Maids Court. Yet this is where she finds herself when the judges decide they want to shake things up with the Court, with few of the girls fitting the traditional mold. Tensions run high among the girls, exacerbated by the Official Etiquette Mistress and Head Advisor, but efforts to get the “unsuitable” (for reasons of race, income, or behavior) Maids to quit only steel Jane’s determination to stick it out. The truth is that after watching her mother’s lingering deterioration and eventual death, Jane’s been kind of lost; her acting out hasn’t caught her tycoon father’s attention, so maybe being a good Magnolia Maid will. Jane’s energetic narration and charismatic personality provide the fizz in this frothy tale of girls trying to overcome social enmity to work toward a common goal. Each girl approaches her position on the Court with a level of enthusiasm or irony consummate with her character, and their situations range from the silly to the sympathetic. Readers looking for some lighthearted summer fun with a likable heroine will enjoy watching Jane turn what could have been a comedy of errors into a triumph of lace parasols and hoop skirts. Review Code: R* 2011, Egmont, Grades 7-10, $8.99.

REVIEWER: Karen Coats (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9781606841310

Oh, How Sylvester Can Pester! And Other Poems More or Less About Manners

Robert Kinerk

Pictures by Drazen Kozjan

This neatly crafted collection of etiquette poems covers all the traditional juvenile sins: interrupting (“When someone is speaking—a grown-up, let’s say—/ can you interrupt? In general, no way”); talking during movies (“There ought to be armies of top-notch, trained booers/ protesting those loudmouths disturbing us viewers”); and chewing with one’s mouth full. Kozjan’s manners-minders are both diverse and retro; there’s a distinctly Hilary Knight feel to his bespectacled, necktie-wearing dads. Oddly, the real manners problems of the day—cellphones and texting—go unmentioned. Nevertheless, it’s a sterling performance. 2011, Simon & Schuster, Ages 4–8, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9781416933625

One Cool Friend

Toni Buzzeo

Pictures by David Small

It seems like tuxedo-wearing Elliot could not be more different from his rumple-suited father. When his father suggests a trip to the aquarium, all Elliot can think is “Kids, masses of noisy kids,” but, always polite, he responds, “Of course. Thanks for inviting me.” Once there, Elliot heads straight for the Magellan penguins they wear tuxedos too. When Elliot later asks, “May I have a penguin?” his father hands him $20 for a souvenir. Elliot instead smuggles out a real penguin that he names Magellan. Elliot’s father absorbed in his research on the Great Barrier Reef is seemingly oblivious to Elliot’s antics with this new member of their household. He doesn’t even notice Magellan hanging out in the freezer when he opens it for a late-night snack (he isn’t wearing his glasses at the time). But when the moment of truth arrives on the final page of this picture book, it offers a hilarious new perspective on every exchange between father and son that has come before. Toni Buzzeo’s carefully crafted narrative establishes the whimsical conceit, which is merrily extended in David Small’s superb illustrations that offer clever, inventive visual clues to the story that exists beneath the surface for most of this lively ride. 2012, Dial, Ages 6-9, $16.99.

REVIEWER: CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, 2013).

ISBN: 9780803734135

R U In? Using Technology Responsibly

Brian Lester

Written especially for tween- and teen-aged boys with input from adolescent development expert Dr. Robyn Silverman, this timely guide focuses on the challenges of the world of technology for teens and how to handle it, socially and emotionally. The ten chapters include issues such as texting, video games, wanting the latest gadgets, online life including chat rooms and web sites, fitting in, cyberbullying, being a daredevil and sexting. The user-friendly format includes personal stories related to the subject, “think about it” questions for discussion or personal discovery, advice from Dr. Robyn and “The Last Word” from the author that presents a rather “been there, done that” point of male view. The subject matter could not be more timely or the advice more reasonable. Use of cell phones and the internet by young people without some guidelines seems foolish and dangerous. This book is the appropriate guide, especially for boys. Adults might learn a thing or two, as well. Occasional color photos add interest. An index, glossary, resources for further information are included. 2011, ABDO, Ages 10 to 14, $32.79.

REVIEWER: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781616135430


Gail Carriger

Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. Prickly, stubborn 25-year-old bluestocking Alexia Tarabotti is patently unmarriageable, and not just because she’s large-nosed and swarthy. She’s also soulless, an oddity and a secret even in a 19th-century London that mostly accepts and integrates werewolf packs, vampire hives and ghosts. The only man who notices her is brash Lord Conall Maccon, a Scottish Alpha werewolf and government official, and (of course) they dislike each other intensely. After Alexia kills a vampire with her parasol at a party—how vulgar!—she and Conall must work together to solve a supernatural mystery that grows quite steampunkishly gruesome. Well-drawn secondary characters round out the story, most notably Lord Akeldama, Alexia’s outrageous, italic-wielding gay best vampire friend. This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans. 2009, Orbit. $18.40.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780316056632

Tea for Ruby

Sarah, Duchess of York

illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

As the regally but a bit wildly dressed Ruby is having a tea party with her dolls, she is thrilled to receive an invitation to have tea with the Queen. An added note states, “Please bring your very best manners.” She rushes to tell everyone the exciting news. Each time she announces it, she reveals how very far she is from “best manners.” Ruby’s brother hopes she will not interrupt the queen, as she does him. Ruby’s friends hope she will learn to wait her turn, as they repeat the refrain spoken earlier by Ruby’s brother: “when you have tea with the queen.” In this way, Ruby is reminded of her manners, including dressing appropriately, saying “please” and “thank you,” not talking with her mouth full, and so forth. All of the advice goes through Ruby’s head as she prepares on the big day, which has a heart-warming surprise ending. Glasser stuffs each scene full of active characters and contextual details. Her line drawings are charged with vitality. Watercolors and colored pencils enhance the energetic story as Ruby charges through the local scenes. The backgrounds of the imagined scenes set in the palace are produced with a monochromatic line in contrast to the colorful characters. On the end pages and back cover, line drawings in pink show characters in romantic costumes and fairy tale-like settings. It is an amusing way to remind little girls of good manners. 2008, A Paula Wiseman Book, Ages 4 to 8, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781416954194

Thanks a Lot, Emily Post!

Jennifer LaRue Huget

Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

When Mother discovers Emily Post’s bestselling etiquette book, she brings it home with plans to transform her four children into perfect little well-mannered angels. At first, they are in shock with all the rules: no slumping in chairs, no leaning on your elbows at the table, no, no, and more nos. Their mother constantly reminds them of what Emily Post says. Miss Post created four fictional characters to illustrate good and bad behavior in her bestselling book published in 1922. Mrs. Toplofty, Mr. Kindhart, Mrs. Wellborn, and Mrs. Worldly also make an appearance in the story as imaginary images that only the children can see. They encourage, cajole, and remind the children of proper behavior. The surprising ending will leave the reader laughing as the children devise a clever way to put an end to Emily Post and her friends. 2009, Schwartz & Wade Books, Ages 5 to 11, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Shan Martinez (The Lorgnette – Heart of Texas Reviews).

ISBN: 9780375838538

Thank you, Mama

Kate Banks

Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Happy birthday, little Alice! Welcome to your special day with lively activities and important lessons in manners. Alice’s Victorian era parents are sticklers for teaching their child good manners. Every time she is given a treat, be it a balloon, a birthday hat, or an outrageous pet, Alice’s parents reinforce the rules about “please” and “thank you.” At first Alice’s pet suggestions seem overblown. After all, who would give a child a giraffe or a tiger for her birthday? Alice, sensibly and politely, refuses wild animals but gladly accepts a parrot which repeats everything she says. Now Alice learns the frustration of trying to teach another being proper manners. When Polly says “thank you,” instead of thanking Alice, he repeats her thanks to her mother and father. Finally, a show of affection gets the response for which Alice was waiting: “Thank you, Alice.” The illustrations are the strength of this slim book. The characters’ large, expressive eyes, marcelled hair and stylized clothing take their look from porcelain dolls of the period. Alice, her family and her animals are nicely sized for reading with a group, and the story is simple enough to provide a solid lesson in good manners. Pair it with Say Please, by Tony Ross for a very polite story time.

REVIEWER: Lois Rubin Gross (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780374374440

Will Princess Isabel Ever Say Please?

Steve Metzger

Illustrated by Amanda Haley

A little kindness means everything. “Will Princess Isabel Ever Say Please?” is a children’s picturebook from Steve Metzger with charming artwork from Amanda Haley, following pretty perfect princess Isabel who has quite the problem with letting out the p-word. After facing the problems of her lack of gratitude, she finally realizes what was missing from her life. “Will Princess Isabel Ever Say Please?” is a humorous fable of humility and kindness, very much recommended. 2012, Holiday House, Ages 4+,$16.95.

REVIEWER: Midwest Book Review (Children’s Bookwatch, June 2012

ISBN: 9780823423231

Updated 09/01/13

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