Friday, June 17, 2011

Poetry Friday: A review of Oh How Sylvester can pester

Trying to convince children that manners actually have a point can be difficult. Most of the time they think that manners are just rules that adults have come up with so that they can torture children with them. For today's poetry title I have a book that shows, using humorous and clever poems, that manners really do have a point.

Robert Kinerk
Pictures by Drazen Kozjan
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2011, 978-1-4169-3362-5
   Learning manners is a bore. Who wants to be “someone all proper and prim?” What is the point of it all? This is what Sylvester thinks, and he is not afraid to voice his opinion. His mother explains that manners really do have a point. “They’ll help you to treat me the way that I like,” she explains. She agrees to make a “concession” with her son. “You be nice to me; I’ll be nice to you.” Could it be that manners are more than anything about learning to get along with others?
   Sylvester is not the only one who struggles to remember his manners. His friends are in exactly the same situation that he is in. Here is a boy who talks while he chews, making everyone at the table (including the cat and dog) angry and even sick to their stomachs. Then there are those people who interrupt others when they are talking. Generally speaking, unless “lightening is flashing its blots from the sky,” it is not acceptable to interrupt a grown up.
   Claymore B. Tate is “the best in the state” when it comes to knowing about etiquette. He knows what to do with a napkin at table, how to eat soup politely, and what to do if you burp. One thing he does not know how to do is how not to lecture people. It never occurs to him that his lecturing is actually impolite because it makes people feel frustrated. He has no idea that manners are there to “help folks become easy with you.”
   In this amusing and cleverly written collection of poems, young readers will meet all kinds of children who are rude, ill-mannered, or simply ignorant. As they read the poems and the stories about Sylvester and his friends, readers will come to appreciate that manners really do have a point. They make it easier for people to get along with us, and they even make us more likeable.
   With humorous rhyming poems and funny illustrations, this is a book about manners that children will actually enjoy reading and looking at. 

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