There hasn't been anything in ages that concentrates on etiquette and inter-family courtesy. Of course, the Hobans can be relied on never to attack the subject in sobersided formation; as they did in their Frances books, they tease their way to the point. Mrs. Hoban's Brutes are arresting and in full color -- blob-nosed, bristle-haired, snaggle-toothed, they combine the worst features of Wallace Beery and W.C. Fields. The result is paradoxically appealing. The Brutes never say "Please" or "Thank you" and at the table they are especially...well, brutish. There, they howl between spoonfuls, kick each other, make faces and snarl. "Then one day Baby Brute found a little wandering lost good feeling in a field of daisies." He brought it home, shared it with his family and their transformation is so astonishing that they change their name to Nice. Very nice.