Mary Wrightly’s so soft-spoken and well-mannered she sometimes gets overlooked, but when her polite passivity almost allows the perfect birthday gift for her baby brother to slip away, she pipes up.
Vibrant pastel drawings on cardboard (with discreet digital retouching) delight with crinkly textures and radiantly rich pinks, reds and blues. Rounded inset scenes appear alongside full-bleed pages, adding visual interest to a simple story about a trip to the toy store. Empathetic illustrations successfully evoke little Mary’s suppressed voice and her mounting anxiety as each toy she selects is snatched up by a more aggressive shopper. Mary’s wide face beseeches with diminutive (almost recessed) eyes, nose and mouth, appropriately modest features for a shy girl who shrinks inward. At last, her great assertion comes with an enlarged font and an immense close-up of her moon face in an open-mouthed shout. Children who feel unheard when mommy chatters on the phone or when daddy clicks on the computer know exactly how mute Mary feels as she tugs on her mother’s arm, hoarsely asking for help landing the gift. Every child will enjoy joining in on this book’s irresistible refrain, repeated throughout: “Mary Wrightly, so politely.”
Understated and sunny itself, this picture book subtly prescribes behavior appropriate for situations dire and everyday. So, um, well, will you give it a read...please? (Picture book. 3-6)