Please, Papa

Kate Banks, illus. by Gabi Swiatkowska. FSG/Foster, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-374-36002-3
Alice has dark ringlets and dainty shoes, and she's learning to say please. "Mama, give me the pig," she orders. "Say please," Mama reminds her, then gives her the pig and some chickens so Alice (who also recently starred in Thank You, Mama) can play farm. Her father, home from work, becomes the farm's horse, trotting and neighing obligingly, but despite Alice's "please," he won't jump. A war of wills ensues. Alice crosses her arms and pouts. "Why don't you give this horse a rest?" Papa asks. "Please, Alice." At last Alice understands, and the story ends there, leaving readers to puzzle over the exchange. Sensitive children may grasp the idea that it's as important to hear "please" as it is to say it; others may conclude that Alice is merely tiresome. Swiatkowska's pictures of Alice in a romantic confection of a dress recall the round-faced children in turn-of-the-century soap advertisements. The story's greatest pleasure is found in the improbable outdoor creatures found inside Alice's house, echoing her gestures and emotions like a visual Greek chorus. Ages 4–8. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/08/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
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