Dinner with the Highbrows

Dinner with the Highbrows

by Kimberly Willis Holt, Kyrsten Brooker
     
 

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Bernard has never been to dinner at a friend's house before. His mother gives him quite the list of rules to follow--no elbows on the table, put your napkin on your lap, don't talk with food in your mouth, and so on. But Bernard isn't prepared to discover that the Goldsmiths think the table is the best place for elbows and feet, never put their napkins on their

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Overview

Bernard has never been to dinner at a friend's house before. His mother gives him quite the list of rules to follow--no elbows on the table, put your napkin on your lap, don't talk with food in your mouth, and so on. But Bernard isn't prepared to discover that the Goldsmiths think the table is the best place for elbows and feet, never put their napkins on their laps, and talk with food in their mouths! How will Bernard survive dinner with such an obnoxious crew?

Kimberly Willis Holt's funny picture book about manners and etiquette turns the idea of good manners upside-down. The fresh point of view in Dinner with the Highbrows will be appreciated by both kids and their parents.

A Christy Ottaviano Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/06/2014
When Bernard Worrywart is invited to the Highbrow residence for dinner, his mother coaches him on how to behave: “Don’t forget, no elbows on the table. Don’t talk with food in your mouth. And for goodness’ sakes, don’t sing,” she says. However, at dinner, which takes place at an Italian restaurant, Bernard learns that the Highbrows burp, burst into song, and more. Brooker’s oil paintings play up the comedic disconnect between the Highbrows’ evident wealth and their boisterous table manners, pointing to how no two families are alike, but the story itself fizzles. The Highbrows may not resemble their surname, but dour, timid Bernard remains saddled to his. Ages 4–7. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
A formal invitation arrives for Bernard, asking him to come to dinner at his friend Gilbert’s house. Bernard is excited! He has never been to a friend’s house for dinner before. His mother, Mrs. Worrywart, spends the week quizzing Bernard on good table manners: compliment his friend’s mother on the table setting, bow his head for the blessing, keep his elbows off the table, clear the plates, offer to wash the dishes, and so on. When Saturday finally arrives, Bernard is nervous about remembering all that his mother has taught him. He barely arrives when the Highbrows whisk him out the door and into the limousine—they are heading to a restaurant for dinner. Spaghetti and meatballs it is! Bernard is on his best behavior, but it turns out that the Highbrows’ standards are a bit laxer than Bernard’s mother’s; before long, the Highbrow children are flinging meatballs, singing at the table, talking with their mouths full, and more. Still, Bernard persists in following the directive he was given—even clearing the table and asking the dishwasher if he can help with the dishes. The story is preposterous, but potentially amusing. Readers will be left wondering how much of a friendship these boys actually have since Bernard is so surprised by the Highbrow’s antics that it seems this is his first encounter with them. Also, Bernard and Gilbert seem not to talk during dinner. But here, it seems, the best is saved for last. At dessert time, the family heads next door to a sundae shop. One can only imagine what mischief the Highbrow children will get into there! This is not a helpful book for reinforcing the concept of manners, as Bernard—in spite of his exemplary behavior—turns out to seem the fool. Rather, it is a slapstick piece for a picture book set. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
04/01/2014
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
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-19
An invitation to have dinner with a friend's family leads to an unpredictable evening for a young boy. Drilled in good manners by his mom, Bernard arrives at Gilbert's house prepared to be polite, tidy and helpful. Greeted at the door by a tail-coated butler, Bernard's (and readers') expectations are upended when the whole family piles into a limousine and heads to an Italian restaurant for a spaghetti dinner. Slurping, burping and using meatballs as projectiles are only some of the atrocious antics that ensue. Through it all, Bernard remembers his mother's lessons, often to humorous effect. Holt's exaggerated, tall-tale style is apparent from the first page when readers learn the boys' last names: Worrywart and Highbrow, respectively. Overall, however, the text is relatively straightforward, relying on the tension between expectations and reality for its wit. Brooker's multimedia illustrations, created using oils and cut paper, amp up the madcap humor. Characters' costumes create an old-fashioned feel: Bernard's mother favors frilly aprons, while Gilbert sports a complete cowboy get-up, and his two brothers appear in short pants, formal jackets and bow ties. Odd perspectives abound, and small snippets of photographs occasionally add texture and surprise. Like the central meal it features, this clever concoction will likely please some preschool palates, but it may take slightly older and more sophisticated readers to easily digest the combination of fun foolishness and explicit advice. (Picture book. 5-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805080889
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
04/08/2014
Pages:
36
Sales rank:
904,013
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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