Please Mr Panda by Steve Antony

cover image

Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9781444916645
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Humour, Animals, Manners. Mr Panda has an armful of donuts and many other animals come by when he offers the donuts to them. The penguin wants the pink one, the skunk wants the blue one and the yellow one, but Mr Panda turns his back. His offer to the ostrich is rejected (she is a ballet dancer), but the orca wants them all. Finally a lemur asks if he can have a donut, 'Please Mr Panda', and so the riddle of how to get a donut is solved. You need to use your manners, with a please and then a thank you.
The story of using your manners will have resonance in classrooms and at home where manners are being taught and discussed, and the humour in the story will make sure the lesson is taught with fun. Children will enjoy recognising the animals drawn and be able to discuss them further. Steve Antony's The Queen's hat (2014) is a very funny story about her hat blowing away in the wind, and would be worth getting from the library to compare with this story and its illustrations.
There are very few books about manners to use in the classroom, and those that are available are didactic and teacherish. Talking about manners with a large dose of humour makes the lesson far more palatable.
The illustrations are noteworthy with their use of the grey page and the placement of the animals. I love the upside down panda and lemur towards the end of the story and this will draw questions from the audience. The use of the endpapers too adds another dimension for humour and discussion which I for one appreciate as I am sure younger readers will notice as well.
Fran Knight