RULES OF THE WILD: An Unruly Book of Manners
Chronicle Books, Bridgette Levin, , illus. by Amanda Shepherd. . Chronicle, $14.95 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-4226-6
Newcomers Levin and Shepherd propose that polite behavior might be different in the animal kingdom. "If your mom had a tail/ or your father a mane,/ the rules of your house/ might not be such a pain," announces the text while Shepherd pictures an expressive lion with an exaggerated nose partially crossing out the "don'ts" on a list of house rules ("eat whatever you'd like./ stay up all night," etc.). A child with an oversize ovoid head and spindly limbs enthusiastically roars with the lion, splashes with a dolphin and spits with a camel—all without being scolded. With animal faces drawn in a style reminiscent of Ed Emberley's how-to cartoon books, the creatures romp together, loudly burping, squirting water and the like, and the book includes a comical yes/no chart that asks readers to match appropriate behaviors to each animal (or child). While the overall concept is a clever way to introduce toddlers to basic house rules, the rhyme at times feels forced and the rhythm of the text irregular or too linguistically complex for the audience who would most enjoy the pictures. Page breaks eliminate the repetition of the subjective "would" making the text sound ungrammatical even when it isn't (e.g., "Father Fruit Bat declare, 'You can stay up all night' "). Nonetheless, young readers tired of obeying rules may find this silly walk on the wild side of animal behavior just impudent enough to suit their fancy. Ages 3-8.
Reviewed on: 11/15/2004