Sunday, March 08, 2015

Say the Magic Word! Please, Mr. Panda! by Steve Anthony

"Would you like a donut?"

A prim Panda seems to be trying to unload his wares, donuts, iced in bright colors. After all, he's wearing a cap that says Donuts.

A perky penguin decides to take advantage of the offer.

"Give me the yellow one!"

"No, you cannot have a donut. I have changed my mind."

The less-than-positive Panda approaches a striped Skunk and repeats his offer. Skunk opts for two, one yellow. one blue.

With a petulant pout, the Panda turns away, proclaiming that he's changed his mind yet again.

Similarly, the persistent Panda gives a sleek Swan the same option, but this supercilious Swan will have none of his garish goodies.

This time the peripatetic Panda heads down to the seaside where a walloping Whale is floating in the waves, so he intones his offer once more in a pontifical voice.

Oh, Boy! Would he? The Whale yells that he wants 'em all, and then some more!

Quite perturbed, the peeved Panda points out that he's changed his plan once more and exits page right, expeditiously.

What's a guy got to do to get a donut around here?

Suddenly a new customer drops in, a long-tailed Lemur, lounging in a tree and hanging by his tail, who obviously knows his Ps and Qs.
"May I have a donut?


Apparently, PLEASE is the magic word if you wish to please a persnickety Panda, (off-putting as he may be) in Steve Anthony's pleasing little parable of Panda proprieties, Please, Mr. Panda (Scholastic Press, 2015). Steve Anthony's wry wit lifts this plot out of the realm of an etiquette lesson and makes of it an elegant little character-driven tale. Anthony's black and white characters, meticulously conceived and delivered, parade across the page with a predictable, but ultimately surprising conclusion that pleases both the Panda, who seems to dislike donuts almost as much as bad manners, and the lemur, who seemingly loves the rainbow-glazed pastries. Even the endpapers get into the story, which ends, appropriately enough, with a well-fed and lazy lemur sleeping off his just desserts, with his ring-tail serving as a pantry for the rest of the stacked donuts.

Bound to please preschoolers, primary graders, and panda (and donut) lovers everywhere.

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