Thursday, July 30, 2020

Review: Arthur's Good Manners


Review of Arthur's Good Manners


        Arthur's Good Manners (also published as Spaghetti Manners) is a Little Golden Book by Stephanie Calmenson. This very entertaining story follows a young alligator who is trying to remember all his manners, because his grandpa is coming for dinner.

        I loved it when I was a kid because the illustrations were either relatable or absurd. It’s relatable because it’s normal kid stuff. Arthur’s playing, helping his mom, and having dinner. Only he’s an alligator, and takes alligator size bites. The little alligator is blowing bubbles in his milk. There is a discussion of the problems with having spaghetti in a rocket ship. There is a picture of an alligator inside the cabinet with the pots and pans, which my siblings and I thought was hilarious. 

        Lisa McCue Karsten did a marvelous job illustrating Arthur’s Good Manners. She used soft colors, and created lots of little details (including alligator shoes). The alligators use bipedal locomotion and interact with objects like they are human, but have retained an unmistakable alligatorness in their proportions and tail movement. Excellent attention to detail.

        The adults are positive role models, which I like rereading it now. They are patient with Arthur, spend one-on-one time with him, and listen to him. When Arthur messes up, he gets a hug and age-appropriate instructions. 

        Grandpa teaches the fork and spoon method of spaghetti twirling.

        Note for buyers: This Little Golden Book seems to have become a collectible since I was little. The used copies are currently (July 2020) more reasonably priced. The "new" copies are not.

5 stars!


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Review: The Color Kittens


Review of The Color Kittens

        The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown is a bright and cheerful Little Golden Book about two kittens in overalls, Brush and Hush. (Brush has purple overalls, and Hush has blue). The kittens have buckets of paint, which they are mixing on their quest to find green, and make “all the colors in the world.” I bought this for a little one because I remembered it very fondly from my own childhood. It’s a very endearing story, with lots of details and little poems.

        The illustrations by Alice and Martin Proversen are very cute. The kittens and their dreams are mostly brightly colored cartoons, and the landscapes are stylish. There are lots of different animals and objects sorted by color, which are very appealing to small children. There are fish, goats, a little bear, and all sorts of animals and things to identify. The story covers paints and color mixing, which is good for learning both color names and color theory. When the kittens eventually discover green, after much exploration, they have silly dreams in riotous color.

Looking the edition of childhood memories?


        In some modern reprintings the illustrated end pages are excluded. Not a big deal plot-wise, but if you want the complete version, try the original 1949 edition, or the 1958 reprint,. The original will have a color wheel made of paint buckets on the front and back inside covers, and a cute closing song: 

"Sing Ho for the color of Brush
Sing Ho for the color of Hush
Sing Ho for the color of Brush and Hush
 Sing Ho for the color of color 
Now hush!"


        The 1994 version was illustrated by Kathi Ember. Same story (no closing song), but a different art style. Ember draws rounder shapes, and adds more dimension to her cartoons than the original. Her version is also very cute. Ember's edition features the dancing green cat, which is the one I loved growing up.




5 stars!