Mary Louise Loses Her Manners
Author: Diane Cuneo; Illustrator: Jack E. Davis
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: Random House/1999
ISBN: 038532538X
Ages: 4-8

Book Review

While eating breakfast, Mary Louise realizes she has lost her manners. She begins to look for them. "She turned her pockets inside out. She shook her hair. She looked up her nose. Between her toes. Inside her shoes." No manners. So off she goes to look for them—with wagon in tow.

Thankfully, Mary Louise meets Mrs. Abby, an artist, who makes a sketch of her missing manners to help in the hunt. And what does Mary Louise’s manners look like? They have "big ears for listening," says Mary Louise, "[a]nd a little mouth to keep naughty words from slipping out." The arms? Short, says Mary Louise, "for not reaching across the table."

With sketch in hand, Mary Louise visits a restaurant where the waitress recognizes the manners in the picture. But, alas, they were here, "helped put bibs on the babies and forks on the tables," and were gone.

Mary Louise continues on her way, visiting the doctor’s office, the hot-dog vendor, a street musician, and the bus stop. Apparently, Mary Louise’s manners had "been running around town exercising themselves."

And where does she finally find her manners? Asleep in the library, kindly covered with newspapers (because they were snoring). "Nobody’s perfect, not even manners," says the librarian. Into the wagon they go. Then, happy and humming, Mary Louise heads back home with a promise never to let her manners run away again.

While reading this wonderfully wry book I found myself, along with my eighth graders to whom I was reading it, laughing out loud at Mary Louise’s antics. The illustrations are deliciously funny and are a perfect match for the text.

Classroom Use: This book would be fitting for a lesson or unit on manners for the young ones, or simply as a good old-fashioned read-aloud. Although recommended for ages 4-8, don’t discount it for use in middle school. On several occasions, I found one of my reluctant teen readers in the reading corner with the book, giggling.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis.
©2003 Education Oasis®

About the Author

Diane Cuneo was born and raised in Illinois, where people are particularly fond of manners. Writing since childhood, she now owns an advertising agency. She has authored three workbooks for children on creative writing.

About the Illustrator

Jack E. Davis currently lives in Minnesota. He works as a full-time artist and has illustrated, among others, the picture book Music Over Manhattan, authored by Mark Karlins.