Steve Antony‘s picture books are brilliant. Each one is like a treasure filled with amazing animals, and each one teaches manners, patience and cooperation.
It started with “Please, Mr. Panda,” in which Mr. Panda has a box of doughnuts he is willing to give away. He asks the animals one by one if they want doughnuts. When some say they want one or all of the doughnuts, Mr. Panda replies that he has changed his mind and they cannot have any doughnuts. This continues until one animal finally responds correctly, with the magic word “please.” That animal gets all the doughnuts. It turns out that Mr. Panda does not like doughnuts! Make sure that the endpapers are examined as part of the book reading. Each of them is different from the other, and both definitely add to the story!
In “I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda,” Antony has the same slightly grumpy panda testing the patience of animals. When they ask him what he is making, he responds the same to them all, “Wait and see. It’s a surprise.” The only animal who is willing to patiently wait is the small, very patient, penguin. He’s small enough that he’s easy to miss at first, until almost the end when he loudly reiterates, “I’LL WAIT, Mr. Panda!” And the huge sprinkle-covered chocolate doughnut was worth waiting for! In this one, too, the end papers complement the story — at the beginning sprinkle-filled and at the end portraying the lucky patient penguin rolling his huge doughnut home.
“Green Lizards vs. Red Rectangles” is quite different from the two books above in several ways. For one thing, there is not a panda to be seen, though there is plenty of grumpiness to go around. The green lizards and the red rectangles are at war, and although they don’t know why, they keep on fighting. Finally, after one green lizard asks — to no avail — “WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?” and there is another war and another war, a red rectangle says, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” They gather for a truce, and “finally the found a way to live peacefully together.” The illustrations are wonderfully bright — red and green — and the conclusion after the truce is beautifully created. Find a solution and live peacefully together. Isn’t that a fabulous lesson not for just children, but for everyone?
It’s also fascinating to note that Antony is red-green color blind. He talks about how that helped him “find his voice” on his blog.
Please note, this review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publisher, Scholastic Press, for review purposes.