cover image The Bad Good Manners Book

The Bad Good Manners Book

Babette Cole. Dial Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2006-0

Etiquette experts seldom dwell on the uproarious consequences of carelessness. Cole (Dr. Dog), on the other hand, considers chaos the spice of life. In a singsongy voice, the author lectures her readers on propriety (""Don't mess around in the kitchen./ Don't dress the dog... or the cat!/ Don't shampoo with a big tube of glue,/ and don't tell your mom that she's fat""). Meanwhile, impishly smiling children snorkel in a flooded bathroom, drop raw eggs on a linoleum floor and, although ""it's very rude to peep!,"" squint through a keyhole at a shaving adult--only to get an eyeful of foam. The mock-stern tone of these do's and don'ts humorously contradicts the freewheeling illustrations, which depict such comic moments as a portly man losing his toupee and a cheerful kid stuffing toilet paper down the commode, a hint of his pink behind showing for maximum hilarity. At the rhyme's crashing finale--in which a boy delivers breakfast-in-bed to his parents... on a skateboard--Cole reminds children and adults that even the best of intentions sometimes result in an unmannerly mess: ""I really tried!"" the boy tells his understanding mother and father. A connoisseur of the ridiculous, Cole serves up mayhem without endorsing harmful misbehavior. Ages 4-8. (June)