I volunteer at the elementary school library, and lately M and her 4th-grade friends have been wild about a new series of picture books called Way To Be! Manners. It’s mystified me, actually, because they are little-kid picture books, officially designated kindergarten and up, but clearly a bit young for these sophisticated almost-tweens. The school librarian loves them, but I suspected that the girls’ fervor was a bit tongue-in-cheek. Tonight, M’s sleepover guest  actually brought two of the books along with her, and since I can’t get a straight answer out of M, I took a moment to quiz her about their appeal. “I love them! They’re funny! They’re just so obvious,” she gushed. She found a page of  the Manners on the Telephone book particularly uproarious:

Bryce says, “Sorry, my mom can’t come to the phone right now.” He does not tell the caller that his mom is in the bathtub. He is using good manners.

Well, all the little friends might think that the books are obvious, but when one of M’s friends checked out Manners at a Friend’s House I almost laughed out loud. This little girl had walked past a table bearing two kinds of chips, mini-pizzas, a vegetable platter, and pigs in a blanket to rummage on my kitchen counter and steal chocolates hidden under a towel at our Christmas party.  So hopefully between the giggles my daughter, her friend, and other kids will learn a thing or two.

Tonight during dessert, the girls were lamenting the behavior of their opposing soccer team at this morning’s game, and grudgingly conceding that they had a few less-than-shining moments themselves. I said that they should write a book called Manners on the Soccer Field, and they jumped to it with great enthusiasm. Here are some excerpts:

Alison doesn’t kick people’s ankles to get the ball. She is using good manners.

Matthew doesn’t brag about his goal. All he does is smile. He is using good manners.

Jonathan doesn’t play from the ground. He is using good manners.

Lily doesn’t push or shove people. She is using good manners.

Natalie doesn’t call the other team losers when she wins. “Good game,” she says. She is using good manners.

Yeah, it was a rough game. On the other hand, anyone know a good literary agent?


  1. These are interesting. The rigid times-to-eat thing is the only thing I didn’t follow from the Ellyn Satter book, and these days, I sometimes regret it.

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