Reviews for Please, Papa


Booklist Reviews 2013 June #1
Alice enlists her mother's help in making a farm in her bedroom. Saying "Mama, give me a pig" doesn't work, but she only has to add the word please and her mother hands over a heavy piglet. The word works when she asks for chickens, too. Though Mama claims not to have a horse, Papa agrees to play horse, taking Alice on his shoulders and romping around the room. Finally tired out, he asks for a rest. Alice refuses but relents when he adds, "Please." There's a dreamlike quality to the story, but its sprinkled with bits of humor, too. In stylized and somewhat surreal paintings evidently set in the early 1900s, the human characters are doll-like figures. The artwork has a sophisticated, mannered style that may not always work for young children, but its unique look will appeal to others. A recently published companion volume, Thank You, Mama (2012), is available as well. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Whimsical textual and visual touches elevate two stories about manners. In Papa, Alice learns when she asks for things with a "please," her parents respond positively. In Mama, her parents teach her to say "please" and "thank you" on a birthday trip to the zoo. Swiatkowska's occasionally surreal mixed-media illustrations feature characters in from a bygone era in old-fashioned attire. [Review covers these two titles: Please, Papa and Thank You, Mama.]

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #1
Practicing politeness gets Alice almost everything she wants for her imaginary barnyard. Too bad the horse makes a request of his own. Alice needs a lot of animals for the farm she's building in her bedroom. "Mama, give me the pig," she demands. Mama reminds her to say "please." Each time Alice requests another animal, Mama teaches her to use her manners before handing her a toy animal that, the illustrations reveal, when placed in her daughter's hands, becomes the real thing. When Alice needs a horse, though, Mama has none. But smart Alice is ready when her papa comes home. With the requisite "please," Alice asks her dad to be the horse. They trot, neigh, gallop and race around the room. When she asks for the horse to jump, she does not like the answer: "No…this horse is tired." Here, the spread's background turns from a cheery blue-gray to a stormier hue as Alice sulks. The dad, painted as a chalky white horse, asks to be given a rest. Then he says, "Please, Alice….Please." The page turn shows Alice relenting, giving Papa, no longer a horse but himself on all fours, a pat on his head. While the message delivered is a good one, the lush Victorian feel of the art may not appeal to the readers most likely to benefit most from this lesson. A companion title, Thank You, Mama (2013), was not available for review. A lesson in manners for children with sophisticated visual palates. (Picture book. 4-6) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #2

Alice has dark ringlets and dainty shoes, and she's learning to say please. "Mama, give me the pig," she orders. "Say please," Mama reminds her, then gives her the pig and some chickens so Alice (who also recently starred in Thank You, Mama) can play farm. Her father, home from work, becomes the farm's horse, trotting and neighing obligingly, but despite Alice's "please," he won't jump. A war of wills ensues. Alice crosses her arms and pouts. "Why don't you give this horse a rest?" Papa asks. "Please, Alice." At last Alice understands, and the story ends there, leaving readers to puzzle over the exchange. Sensitive children may grasp the idea that it's as important to hear "please" as it is to say it; others may conclude that Alice is merely tiresome. Swiatkowska's pictures of Alice in a romantic confection of a dress recall the round-faced children in turn-of-the-century soap advertisements. The story's greatest pleasure is found in the improbable outdoor creatures found inside Alice's house, echoing her gestures and emotions like a visual Greek chorus. Ages 4-8. (May)

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Alice has dark ringlets and dainty shoes, and she's learning to say please. "Mama, give me the pig," she orders. "Say please," Mama reminds her, then gives her the pig and some chickens so Alice (who also recently starred in Thank You, Mama) can play farm. Her father, home from work, becomes the farm's horse, trotting and neighing obligingly, but despite Alice's "please," he won't jump. A war of wills ensues. Alice crosses her arms and pouts. "Why don't you give this horse a rest?" Papa asks. "Please, Alice." At last Alice understands, and the story ends there, leaving readers to puzzle over the exchange. Sensitive children may grasp the idea that it's as important to hear "please" as it is to say it; others may conclude that Alice is merely tiresome. Swiatkowska's pictures of Alice in a romantic confection of a dress recall the round-faced children in turn-of-the-century soap advertisements. The story's greatest pleasure is found in the improbable outdoor creatures found inside Alice's house, echoing her gestures and emotions like a visual Greek chorus. Ages 4-8. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 May

K-Gr 2--Alice is making a farm in her room. She asks her mother for a pig and then for chickens, and Mama provides them only when the child says, "Please." But when she asks for a horse, her mother replies that she doesn't have one. The accompanying pictures show a menagerie that includes an elephant, cats, a panda, birds. When Papa comes home and Alice asks him for a horse, he puts her on his shoulders and they romp around. Papa gets tired, quits the game, and Alice sulks. "Then the horse turned and looked at her." On two spreads, Papa is now depicted as a literal white horse. When Alice finally gives in and lets him rest, he's back to his human self. On the last spread, Alice feeds a cake to the animals in her bedroom. The setting, people, and costumes in the lush paintings have a Victorian look, and the human faces resemble porcelain dolls. This title is clearly a lesson in manners, but the illustrations are too confusing to gain a large audience.--Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI

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