An eerie purple creature teaches a town of rude children an important lesson in this fantastical children’s book.
The kids aren’t very nice in a town dubbed Bratsville. They pick their noses, scream and shout, and misbehave in every situation—much to the chagrin of their helpless parents, who can do very little to quell their children’s ridiculous behavior. Nothing, it seems, can get the kids to be polite, conscientious members of society. The book blames sweets or smothering parents as possible sources of the brattiness, but it’s not until a mysterious, swampy purple being called the BetterNot comes to town that the children behave properly. BetterNot teaches every child that his or her behavior has consequences. For instance, Lilly Loudmouth calls people names, so BetterNot, using magical powers, makes sure that she’s transformed into a creature for doing so. Patrick Puncher has a habit of beating on his friends, and BetterNot warns him that he could end up hitting himself in the face. This continues until he expertly deals with all the problem children in town. After he finishes his mission of debratification, Bratsville is renamed Angelsville, as all the kids are now perfectly behaved. Del Vecchio (The Pearl of Anton, 2004) certainly has a grasp on how to engage parents and young readers alike. The book is part fun bedtime story and part cautionary tale and thus serves dual purposes: to delight children with rhyming prose and colorful, engaging illustrations and to dictate to them that certain behaviors aren’t acceptable in society. Such warning statements are a foundational aspect of parenting—how many children have been told not to make a face, lest it stick like that forever?—and this book offers a nice way for parents to get in on the joke while reinforcing their child’s good behavior. (After all, one never knows when BetterNot will be right around the corner.) Fong’s illustrations, meanwhile, are brightly hued and expertly drawn. This funny, thoughtful work may be very helpful for caretakers trying to curb children’s less-than-savory actions.
A tale of funny behavior modification for the kindergarten set.