A lyrical attempt to explain the larger concepts behind 11 “magic words” of good manners.
Children are taught at a young age to say certain words or phrases such as “please” and “thank you,” but they do not often authentically feel or even understand what they mean. With the laudable goal of helping to demystify that particular path of childhood development, Delaunois pairs common polite phrases with simple explanations—some more abstract than others. “Good morning,” for instance, is paired with “I smile at a brand new day.” “I’m sorry” is paired with “I’m so sad that I hurt you.” “I love you,” by contrast, is described as “The most beautiful song for two.” To a literal child, songs and love need not go hand in hand. “Please” is the most perplexing: “A magic key that opens most doors.” That “most” is highly problematic—even children who understand the metaphor may find themselves expecting whatever they want with a simple “please.” Gauthier’s collage illustrations more than make up for any text quibbles found here and there. The seemingly hastily sketched and quickly snipped-out characters have a charming sense of impermanence, as if a gust of wind could wisp them away at any moment.
Beautiful phrasing to be sure, but with etiquette lessons, perhaps it is better to show in action and circumstance rather than to tell. (Picture book. 3-6)