Posted by Venus on Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Labels: picture book review
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Mr. Panda is offering donuts. However, as he offers, not a single friend, not the penguin, skunk, or whale seem to know how to say please and so Mr. Panda gives them nothing.
When I first read this book, I had a knee-jerk reaction that a lot of reviewers seem to be having where Mr. Panda is a bit of a jerk for offering donuts and then just walking away when they don't say please. A fact that is not completely obvious in the beginning. Why isn't he giving them donuts? What is the deal? Oh...I see...they didn't say please.
After having just read a chapter in Wild Things by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta, concerning subversive children's literature, I have a bit of different perspective on this. I think we expect out children's literature to always be neat and tidy. We want our children to learn to be giving and even demand that they say please and thank you, but are bothered when a character (or child) refuses to give something over when that please or thank you is withheld? What do we want? The reality is, we live in a world where people don't always say please or thank you for things and it is our prerogative as human beings to not do something for someone just because they command it. In fact, I have witnessed many times, where parents have disciplined a child for not saying please or thank you or even taking said object/food away from the child for not being polite. To teach a lesson.
That is all that Mr. Panda is doing here. He offers, they demand, he walks away. No, you can't have a donut if you are going to be a jerk about it. Mr. Panda isn't the one who is the jerk, it's all the other animals.