Young Percy Isaac Gifford offers 10 rules for students to follow so that an “A+” will be guaranteed.
Unfortunately, his negatively-phrased list of rules are full of don’ts. Among them: Don't be late or impolite, don’t forget to have fun, don’t contradict your teacher or take forever to say something, don’t cry often or without a reason and “when in doubt, don’t.” Repeated readings of all these don'ts, especially when accompanied by all of Percy’s lists of specific things not to do, may well permanently fix the “naughty” behaviors in readers’ minds. In addition, Percy’s rules are lacking in the why department, never connecting how following his rules will lead to good grades…nor does he ever suggest that studying and doing homework are a good route to that end, too. The rhyming verse, while rollicking, is sometimes forced, resulting in clunky phrasing: “An important rule to follow: / Don’t forget to use your brain. / That means leave your plans at home / That qualify as insane!” Murfin’s artwork employs collaged papers and muted tones for a retro feel. Her rosy-cheeked children clearly illustrate each don’t, along with some others that aren’t spelled out in the text.