Monday, August 27, 2012
In this Toon Book from Candlewick Press, Maya’s parents try to teach Maya basic table manners such as “use your fork,” “sit up,” and “use a napkin.” They tell her she needs manners because what would she do if she were eating dinner with the queen. Well, immediately after Maya gets invited to have dinner with the queen. She’s flown to the palace and is seated next the queen for dinner. At first, she’s terrified and at one point is horribly embarrassed. Then the unexpected happens and things don’t turn out the way they should.
MAYA MAKES A MESS is a beautifully illustrated book. The colors are vivid and it’s easy to discern what each of the characters feels by looking at their facial expressions. However, the book is disappointing because instead of teaching manners or a moral, it does the opposite. In the end, Maya doesn’t learn anything and leaves for home to teach her parents a lesson. I realize that the book attempts to make a point that it’s good to do things unusual sometimes. However, that’s not a lesson that children really need to learn. In our current society children are basically allowed to do whatever they want at schools because there can be no real discipline and teachers are fired or written up for trying to bring some order to a classroom. Children need to be taught manners and learn that they aren’t the center of the world. MAYA MAKES A MESS teaches the exact opposite.