Pet Dad (Elanna Allen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pet Dad by Elanna Allen, the story of a stubborn little girl and her equally stubborn dad.

Plum wants nothing more than a pet of her own. Her dad, however, wants nothing more than NO pets. So Plum decides to make do with what she’s got, and declares her dad to be her pet, renaming him Schnitzel. She attempts to feed him yard clippings (which resemble his boring grown-up salad) and paper train him (he prefers to READ the paper during potty time instead), but is met with his stubborn refusal at every turn. A day at the park is met with more conflict when Plum demands he “fetch” her an ice cream cone, and is instead punished with a time-out for her behavior. Given time to think, Plum realizes her training error: she never gave her “pet” a reward. And there’s not reward that pet dads like more than a hug.

Very mixed feelings. For one, the illustrations were so cute – Plum and her dad are both immensely expressive and endearing, and I loved the creative typesets for key dialogue and concepts. There’s also a sweet message about manners in there as well, but I don’t know. Overall, the story felt too odd to me. There was something very uncomfortable about a little girl pulling her shocked father on his hands and knees, using his necktie as a leash. And while I realize that the intent was to show children that it’s necessary to be polite and not overbearing on their parents, the message that hugs are “rewards” also hit a strangely sour note for me as well. Hugs should be given because they are wanted, not as a commodity or to get one’s way. It’s a shame, because the art is so precious, and the length is fine, but even JJ seemed puzzled with Plum’s behavior. Overall, not for us.

Thank You, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is a new addition to our home library, Thank You, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, the third book in the wonderful Mr. Panda series.

Little Lemur sees that Mr. Panda has an armful of gifts, and asks who they are for. Mr. Panda replies that they’re for his friends, so Lemur accompanies him as he hands out handmade presents to Mouse, Octopus, Elephant and Mountain Goat. None of the animals are quite pleased with their gifts (which are all ill-fitting clothes), but Lemur reminds them that it’s the thought that counts. And in fact, the last gift is for Lemur himself: a too-large pair of underwear! But Lemur still remembers to say “Thank you, Mr. Panda!”; after all, it’s important to have good manners!

As with its predecessors, this book is a subtle and fun lesson in manners, obviously placing the emphasis on showing gratitude when someone gives you a thoughtful gift, even if it isn’t perfect. And as with the previous two books, we loved the visual gags, the colorful and lively art, and the adorably gruff Mr. Panda. However, I did miss a theme that the previous two books had shared: the animal friend that displayed the good manners came away with the greatest reward. Here, Lemur is the only one of Mr. Panda’s friends who remembers to say thank you, yet still ends up with a gift he can’t really use. Perhaps this wouldn’t have bothered me so if the best present of the bunch, a pile of delicious donuts, had not gone to perhaps the rudest animal of all (the elephant, who did not even open the gift when it was given). It threw me for a bit of a loop, considering the previous two books shared this plot device, but I suppose that could be the point: it truly is the thought that counts. Regardless, the length was great, and JJ still adored her grumpy panda as always, so this one is still very much Baby Bookworm approved.

I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, the second book in the adorable series on manners starring Mr. Panda.

Opening on the dour Mr. Panda, who is back to his love of baking treats for those polite enough to warrant them. This time, many animals stop by to ask about his activities. An anteater inquires after cookies. A rabbit and his colony wonders if it’s cupcakes this time. To each curious visitor, Mr. Panda instructs them simply to wait and see, as it is a surprise. Yet, rudely, each animal decides that waiting is not for them and make their departures… that is, except for one little penguin who promises to wait patiently for Mr. Panda to finish his masterpiece. And at last, when the delicious treat is finished, the penguin is in for a generous surprise to reward his patience and good manners.

We absolutely loved the previous book in this series, Please, Mr. Panda, and its follow-up did not disappoint! The beauty of these stories are the simple way they teach and reinforce good manners, and this one definitely brought home the virtues, and spoils, of being patient. The wonderful hodgepodge of animals that Mr. Panda encounters is still lots of fun to give voice to when reading aloud, especially Mr. Panda’s terse, succinct, yet oddly endearing style of speech. The art and text layouts are simple yet wonderfully expressive, and the length is great. This is a favorite bedtime story of ours, and a great way to teach little readers that patience is a virtue often rewarded. Baby Bookworm approved!

Please, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! If JJ seems a little more rosy-cheeked than usual, it’s because she woke up with a cold! Poor baby. Still, we were able to get our reading in today: we read Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, a short and sweet tale about the importance of the magic word.

Mr. Panda has some doughnuts. He grumpily offers the doughnuts to several animals, but when they rudely demand one doughnut or the other, Mr. Panda finds he has changed his mind and rescinds his offer. Finally, a little lemur asks Mr. Panda if he may have a donut: “Please, Mr. Panda?” he asks. And wouldn’t you know, Panda gives him all the doughnuts – he just wanted someone to say please.

This was a funny little book. It’s rather short, which actually makes is great for baby bookworms and young readers. Plus, the lesson is a classic one: having good manners is important, and can have wonderful rewards. The illustrations are simple and cute, and overall, JJ liked it a lot – especially grumpy old Mr. Panda. So this one is Baby Bookworm approved!