Normally very good at breaking down skills in a way that both teaches and entertains, the I See I Learn series missteps with this entry.
Freda loves playing school and being the teacher, just like Miss Cathy. But when Percy comes to join her, he points out her lack of manners: Miss Cathy “told us that it’s polite to say ‘please’ when you ask for something.” When Freda continues her bossy ways, he plays by himself, joining her when she finally asks politely. Outside, at “recess,” the lessons on being polite continue with “thank you” and “you’re welcome,” but they are couched in a game of catch that is ridiculously polite, to the point of being unbelievable. Scrubba Dub, Carlos, publishing simultaneously, does a better job with its target behavior, teaching children the importance of good hand-washing. When Carlos fails to clean his dirty hands, Miss Cathy leads a discussion on why hand-washing is so important and shows the children the proper hand-washing technique, broken down into flowchart steps on the pages. Unfortunately, rather than use the old standard of “Happy Birthday,” Murphy has children “singing” “One scrubba dub, two scrubba dub…” all the way up to 10. Still, by the end of the book, youngsters will be familiar with both the whys and the hows of hand-washing. Both titles end with a summary and questions.
Didacticism tops the charts with Freda, but co-publishing Carlos is on the money. (Picture book. 2-5)