"That's good manners" is one of our three year old's favourite phrases. It is often her concluding remark in a regular exchange with us, which starts with her asking for "a tiny weenie biscuit"/"another olive"/"some smokey cheese". "What do you say?", we ask. "Pleeeeeease, Mr Panda!", she replies, grinning.
Manners are the subject of many favourite picturebooks, with sharing, saying please and being patient their most popular points of politeness. Below is a round up of brilliant books, all on their best behaviour.
All Mine! by Zehra Hicks, published by Macmillan Children's Books
In this laugh-out-loud tale of greed and comeuppance, a mouse's lunch is snatched away by a rude seagull. Not content, and ignoring his small victim's admonishing critique, the seagull takes mouse's crisps as well, and even follows mouse into his little house. However, mouse has a cunning plan, which ends with a glorious cake and a bunting-laden celebration.
A different solid bright colour fills each page, and Zehra Hicks' boldly drawn characters are juxtaposed with clever and highly effective, superimposed photographs of various seagull-tempting treats.
Crunch by Carolina Rabei, published by Child's Play
Crunch is a gluttonous Guinea pig living a comfortable life alone in his cage. When a hungry mouse asks him to share his tasty titbits he refuses. The mouse offers friendship and a hug in exchange, but Crunch just grumbles and grumps and sends him away.
His behaviour leaves Crunch with a bitter taste in his mouth and he can't enjoy his breakfast. He thinks about poor mouse, and imagines a bad fate. He sets off to find him and discovers a world of wonders. He returns home to find mouse tucking into a pile of leaves, where sharing and friendship follows.
Rabei's delightful illustrations have an unusual wood cut-like aspect to them, supported by an array of strong colours, including lime green leaves and a huge slice of juicy red watermelon.
I'll Wait, Mr Panda by Steve Antony, published by Hodder Children's Books
We waited patiently for this follow up to the magnificent 'Please Mr Panda' and were fully rewarded. In this sequel, the enigmatic Mr Panda has taken to baking, and is preparing a mouth watering surprise.
A series of impatient animals demand to know what he is making. When Mr Panda tells them that they need to wait and see, for "it's a surprise", one after another refuses and walks away.
Finally, a small penguin shows good manners and stands quietly to one side. while Mr Panda finishes up. "Thank you, Mr Panda. It was worth the wait", says the penguin, calling out from underneath the enormous, hundreds-and-thousands-coated, sweet surprise.
As he did in his groundbreaking 'Please Mr Panda', Steve Antony's distinctive black and white characters and teal/grey backgrounds are juxtaposed with an array of wonderfully coloured doughnuts, which this time provide the pattern on Mr Panda's fabulous apron.
Aunt Amelia has been a favourite for a long time. It is a fun, bright and charming book, which wonderfully captures the nostalgic joy of childhood. The gorgeous tapestry of spreads are accompanied by details from the list of strict instructions left by parents for their children's babysitter. Little do they or their parents know, but Aunt Amelia - a matronly crocodile, with her a huge peach sunhat adorned by flora and fauna, equipped with a Mary Poppins-esque purse and umbrella - likes to bend, and even reverse, the rules!
For more picturebooks with exceptional manners try these, which we've reviewed earlier:
'Monkey and the Little One' by Claire Alexander
A tale of initially unrequited affection, about two creatures who struggle to speak each other's language. This is a tender picturebook whose messages are as gentle and sweet as its illustrations. It's an ideal choice for reading to a young child when a new sibling arrives, or when significant change has come into their lives.
'Norris the Bear Who Shared' by Carherine Rayner
Catherine Rayner's illustrations are always stunning - in our view she's the most talented illustrator of wildlife in the picturebook business - and the message that underlines her stories is one of adventure, fun and the value of persistence.Norris' patient wait for his prized treat, the wisdom he exhibits, and the benefit of his decision to share it with his new companions is simply and perfectly told.
'Please Mr Panda' by Steve Antony
Steve Antony's illustrations are bold, beautiful and funny. The doughnuts are a colourful feast for the eyes, in a clever contrast to the black and white of the characters that the panda encounters. As the story unfolds, the animals (and their levels of rudeness) increase in size, from a penguin to skunk to ostrich to whale), before concluding with the polite, well-mannered (and very full) lemur.
'Aunt Amelia' by Rebecca Cobb.