Dinner with the Highbrows

illus. by Kyrsten Brooker. 40p. Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805080889.
K-Gr 2—Bernard receives a formal invitation to dine with the affluent Highbrows, so his mom drills him in etiquette. Surprises begin when instead of eating at their home, the Highbrows take him in their limousine to an Italian restaurant. They grab utensils, offer an inane blessing, reach across the table, burp, and drop food. Bernard continues to recall his mother's teachings and maintains a high standard of behavior (he even goes to the kitchen to help wash dishes), but the antics promise to continue as the party leaves for dessert at a sundae shop. Brooker's buoyant watercolor and cut-paper illustrations are filled with whimsical details and goofy characters. The endpapers include etiquette tips set against the backdrop of a messy dinner table. The tale starts a tad slowly and tries too hard to be humorous. Bernard's clearing the table and dishwashing at the restaurant might strike some as funny, but it's a shame that the Highbrows remain clueless and crass despite the boy's good manners.—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
In preparation for dinner with the Highbrow family, Bernard Worrywart's mother teaches him all about manners. However, when the protagonist finally dines with the unruly clan, they break every rule he's learned. The book teeters on pedantic, but the humor (which includes burping, singing at the table, and other shenanigans) and animated oil-paint and cut-paper illustrations keep it from falling over the edge.

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