A vitriolic screed against rude, selfish, nasty children—sufficiently overdone to indicate that it’s at least partly in fun.
Retro, James Flora–style illustrations depict scenes of small children misbehaving and adults (or, in one scene, zoo animals) sobbing histrionically. Cuvellier’s accompanying narrative, translated from French, inveighs against children who throw tantrums, won’t share toys, bite and otherwise harass others or even just play hard to get when a parental cuddle is offered. The offenses tallied proceed to turn from mean to liberating. A child throws creamed spinach on the floor; another paints everything in sight rather than staying inside the line; a third—a young musician—plays piano not with “ten tiny fingers” but “with her feet, her elbows, her teddy and her bottom.” Mozart would (does, in the picture) weep, but then, he’s only 5. Apparently even adults can misbehave, as a family portrait turns into equal-opportunity mischief-making. Children supposedly turn “lovely” at bedtime though, and in the final scene, a young sleeper lies, smiling angelically—dreaming of bloody death and violence. “Children are naughty. Parents are nice. And that is that!” Right.
Young readers and listeners will grow dizzy from shaking their heads in mock dismay. (Picture book. 6-8)