Practicing politeness gets Alice almost everything she wants for her imaginary barnyard. Too bad the horse makes a request of his own.
Alice needs a lot of animals for the farm she’s building in her bedroom. “Mama, give me the pig,” she demands. Mama reminds her to say “please.” Each time Alice requests another animal, Mama teaches her to use her manners before handing her a toy animal that, the illustrations reveal, when placed in her daughter’s hands, becomes the real thing. When Alice needs a horse, though, Mama has none. But smart Alice is ready when her papa comes home. With the requisite “please,” Alice asks her dad to be the horse. They trot, neigh, gallop and race around the room. When she asks for the horse to jump, she does not like the answer: “No…this horse is tired.” Here, the spread’s background turns from a cheery blue-gray to a stormier hue as Alice sulks. The dad, painted as a chalky white horse, asks to be given a rest. Then he says, “Please, Alice….Please.” The page turn shows Alice relenting, giving Papa, no longer a horse but himself on all fours, a pat on his head. While the message delivered is a good one, the lush Victorian feel of the art may not appeal to the readers most likely to benefit most from this lesson. A companion title, Thank You, Mama (2013), was not available for review.
A lesson in manners for children with sophisticated visual palates. (Picture book. 4-6)