Willems's assertive characters know what they want, but they seldom ask for it politely. In this etiquette lesson (from which Pigeon, star of a few other of Willems's picture books, could benefit), the author explains the tactical usefulness of the magic word. The gaggle of Ignatz-lookalike mice first introduced in Time to Pee!
dispense the lesson, instructing a girl who wants a cookie by holding up four red placards shaped like stop signs ("Don't just grab it!") to arrest her first impulse. As she resists their advice, the mute mice—who might
have an ulterior motive—wave banners and fly tiny zeppelins emblazoned with word-by-word commands: "Go ask a big person/ and/ Please say 'please'!" Then, in a digression from the main story, they and some other children demonstrate the versatile applications of "please," "excuse me," "sorry" and "thank you" ("you have to mean it!"). Finally the girl appeals to her father with a gracefully hand-lettered "please" that does the trick, and the tutorial concludes with the rodents begging (politely) for a bite of her hard-earned cookie. The simply drawn children recall the various Peanuts characters, and the insistent mice clown around in ways that reward rereading. This title lacks the hilarity of Willems's previous accounts of persuasion, but it does assert the power of a spoonful of sugar. Ages 3-6. (June)