Give Please a Chance
Please, stop. Just stop.
The end papers on this book are horizontal stripes of bright red and bright blue, about a quarter of an inch in thickness. I feel like it is assaulting my eyes. The next thing you see after these pages is an "About This Book" written by Bill O'Reilly. The few paragraphs are very patronizing. For example, it says, "Believe it or not, once upon a time, James and I were both kids. Life was much easier in those days because there were rules most Americans followed. Holding the door for someone. A nod and a hello. Even just saying 'Please.' Most kids did those things back then, but now there is confusion in many places. James and I believe we can bring that civility and compassion back into the world. Let's start today with our children, by encouraging them to always say that wonderful, magical word: please." Oh, come on! That kind of nostalgia is just grating. "There is confusion in many places." Confusion about what? "Confusion" doesn't stop people from saying please.
Through the whole book, every time you turn the page, there is text on the left and a full-page image on the right, except for the word "please" with a question mark underneath it. Every image is done by a different illustrator, so apparently it took both Bill O'Reilly and James Patterson to write the text for this book. I wonder if they came up with the scenarios, and how much leeway the illustrators were given. Like, for the text, "I've got a little problem, please?" Did they tell the illustrator of that to depict a little boy sitting on a toilet who had run out of toilet paper? My husband and I stress to our kids to not just say "please" but actually explain what they're asking for and who they are asking it of. Just going up to somebody and saying, "It's so hot out, please?" What does that child want? The only understanding you have of what they want is given by the illustration, where the child is shown with hands clasped together, wearing swim flippers, a swim mask and a snorkel, and probably a floaty on her back. Out the open door, you can see some sort of water. So presumably she wants permission to go swimming. But maybe she wants the adult to go swimming with her? Or maybe the house is air conditioned and she's succumbing to heat stroke?
"Am I clean yet, please?" That's not something that you can ask for. Your parent can't make you clean. And some of them are ridiculous things that you would not let a child do. A little girl standing in front of a roller coaster's height requirement sign saying, "I am too big enough, please?" No matter how much she asks her parents "please" they would be breaking the rules of the ride to do that. Safety rules. And the authors harped on rules so much in the starting note, too! Or a little girl seeing six kittens behind glass at a pet shop saying, "Can we take them all, please?" That's a really bad idea. It doesn't matter if you're saying please. It's still a bad idea. And one of the weirdest pages in the book has a little child of indeterminate gender dressed as a scarecrow holding a bag of candy surrounded by jack-o'-lanterns, saying, "Trick and treat, please?" First off, it's "trick or treat," and secondly, it's really awkward to say "please" when you're following a ritual like Halloween. You say thank you when somebody has given you candy, but that's after the expectation has been satisfied. And of course they had to cram religion into it. A little girl prays, "Dear God, can you hear me, I'm little, please?"
It just irritates me. It's an irritating book. It's definitely not "good", but I'm not sure it's a "bad" book: it doesn't try to communicate a bad message. It's just profoundly irritating. So I guess it goes into the mediocre category. I certainly wouldn't read this because it would drive me crazy, but if somebody else is able to ignore that, it's not a terrible message.