FICTION

Advice to Little Girls

illus. by Vladimir Radunsky. 24p. Enchanted Lion. 2013. RTE $14.95. ISBN 9781592701292.
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Gr 5 Up—The audience for this title will be older than the typical picture-book crowd though the text and format appear to be directed at young children. The vocabulary and content will not be easily understood or appreciated by today's youngsters. Each of Twain's seven directives, originally written in 1867, starts by explaining how to behave correctly and then makes a tongue-in-cheek about-face. For example, "If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother, do not correct him with mud…. It is better to scald him a little, for then you obtain desirable results." On one page, a crossed-out illustration shows a girl throwing mud at her brother's white clothing, and the following page reveals her pouring scalding water from a teapot onto his head, while smiling. The pictures look like they were outlined using a quill pen and ink with all the typical splotches and dribbles that accompanied that instrument. The words for each "instruction" look like they were typed on an old typewriter on rectangular pieces of paper and glued onto the gold pages. Florence Parry Heide's Tales for the Perfect Child (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1985) also instructs children on how to get their way, but in a gentler manner to which readers can relate.—Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI
Using a mock professorial tone, Twain offers advice about how little girls should behave (e.g., "If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother, do not correct him with mud"). The text is amusing, but the format is slightly off-putting: big blocks of text are paired with sketch-like illustrations of people who often look unhappy and angry.

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