This book has been AMAZING for helping my 5 and 7 year olds remember to say please. Based on other reviews I read, some people think it’s condescending and sends a bad message, but my kids and I all think it’s hysterical. I love that it gives me an easy, fun way to remind my kids to be polite.
Title: Please, Mr. Panda
Author: Steve Antony
Illustrator: Steve Antony
Publication Year: 2014
Age Group: Preschool, Kindergarten, Early Elementary
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Comments: I had no idea this book was so controversial until I went to grab the cover image off Amazon and saw that it had lots of negative reviews. Here’s what you should know about it: 1) It takes about 30 seconds to read. 2) The panda is kind of a jerk. If either of those aspects bother you, then you probably won’t like this book.
However, the extent of the panda’s rudeness is that he repeatedly offers doughnuts and then basically says, “No, I have changed my mind.” At the end of the book, a cute lemur finally says, “Please, Mr. Panda,” and he gets all the doughnuts. The first time we read this book, I didn’t even understand that it was supposed to teach kids to say please. My kids and I just thought it was really funny. For being so short, the author really packed in a lot of humor.
The next day I asked my husband if our kids had made him read the panda book yet. He said, “Oh, you mean the one about saying please?” I hadn’t even been thinking about it like that, but he’s right. The point is to teach kids to say please. However, while the panda may be a little condescending towards the other characters in the book, the book does not come off as condescending to children at all.
A few days ago, I was driving home when my oldest kid yelled out from the back row of our minivan, “Mom, turn on the TV!” (Yes, we’re one of those families that have TVs in the car. Don’t judge. I like my sanity!) Without even thinking about it, I shot back, “NO! I have changed my mind.” At first, my son was super confused. Then I said, “You can NOT have a doughnut. I have changed my mind.” I could almost hear him smiling as he said, “Pleeeease, Mr. Panda.” Then I turned it on and said, “Okay, you can have them all.”
It was a simple exchange, but I felt like it was meaningful for all 3 of my “big” kids in the car. Now whenever I say, “I have changed my mind” when they ask me for something, they know I want them to say please. Instead of constantly nagging my kids to remind them to ask politely like I usually do (which clearly isn’t working out so well), now we share an inside joke. It’s really a win-win. Not only do I get to remind them to say please, but I foster goodwill, which makes them more likely to remember on their own anyway. I, for one, am a huge fan of Mr. Panda.
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