With The Adventures (or Misadventures) of Boy and Girl in the Land of Lollipop, author Viggo Conradt-Eberlin offers a manners how-to for children between the ages of 4 and 8.
The book appears to be a sequel and assumes prior knowledge in the first sentence, which reads: “When we last saw Boy, Girl and their dragon friend, they had stopped to rest at the motel.” Curiously, there’s no mention of the “Land of Lollipop” anywhere in the text.
As the Boy, Girl and dragon sit at a picnic table, they are approached by a striped feline named “Manners the Cat.” Manners announces that Boy and Girl’s parents asked him to help teach them table manners.
Manners proceeds to offer useful advice, such as: Don’t speak with your mouth full; don’t reach; don’t play with your food or blow on it. He instructs the group to cut salad “if the pieces are too large,” to use a small piece of bread to push food onto a fork or spoon,” and other bits of table etiquette. The last few pages offer further advice with accompanying pictures for children to color.
While these mannerly rules are practical and could help create a more peaceful dinnertime experience for families, the book’s tone feels rather harsh. When the dragon reaches in front of Girl for some food, for example, Manners “jumped up with his eyes bulging because of what he was seeing, his ears burning…and his hair sticking straight out from his body as if he had stuck a finger in a wall socket.” One wishes this cat had a better sense of humor!
In this age of hit-and-run dinners and busy parents too frenzied to focus on table etiquette, the book’s message is important, but the text needs some refining to reach its potential. A more playful presentation — and revision to make the book stand alone for those new to the series — would more successfully engage a young audience.
Also available as an ebook.