No More Nice

No More Nice

4.0 1
by Amy MacDonald, Cat Bowman Smith
     
 

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Life becomes infinitely more interesting for Simon when he visits his great-aunt Mattie. He tries hard to be polite, but what is polite? Simon knows, for example, it's not polite to burp, to ask too many questions, to interrupt. But the moment he sets eyes on Aunt Mattie, his notion of what constitutes "good behavior" is turned on its ear.

Soon, inspired by Aunt

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Overview

Life becomes infinitely more interesting for Simon when he visits his great-aunt Mattie. He tries hard to be polite, but what is polite? Simon knows, for example, it's not polite to burp, to ask too many questions, to interrupt. But the moment he sets eyes on Aunt Mattie, his notion of what constitutes "good behavior" is turned on its ear.

Soon, inspired by Aunt Mattie herself and with the help of Uncle Philbert's un-lessons, an incorrigible parrot named Runcible, and a trio of champion-spitting llamas named Mr. Rude, Mr. Crude, and Mr. Ugly, Simon is well on his way to learning the art of being a kid and most important of all, of thinking for himself.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-6Apprehensive about meeting his great-aunt for the first time, Simon envisions a stereotyped old, feeble, child-hating witch. What he finds instead is a kindhearted goofball who admonishes him for not interrupting and for asking too few questions. Along with her curmudgeonly and irascible husband Philbert, Mattie sets out to give goody two-shoes Simon "un-lessons" so he can produce a variety of armpit tunes, as well as burp satisfyingly. Cussing (as opposed to cretin cursing), using alliterative and creatively concatenated words, is another "proper kid" skill Simon learns. So, armed with new talents and an unabridged vocabulary, he returns to face his aunt, uncle, and corpulent cousin who are staying at his home until their seemingly interminable interior decoration project is completed. While Aunt Mattie and Uncle Philbert are supposed to be free spirits unencumbered by trivial adult rules, they come across instead as silly and irritating, sort of like bored, obnoxious children. Rudeness is a tricky form of self-defense, and MacDonald misleads her readers into believing they can cussand spittheir way out of confrontations with bullies. And sassing teachers (even when defending a fellow student), overbearing relatives, or a traffic cop may seem cathartic to rules-laden children, but they'll soon find that a dissolute week in the country may be as much anarchy as they can handle.John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, Plainview, TX
Kirkus Reviews
When Simon's proper and stuffy relatives come to stay for spring vacation, his mother packs him off to the country to stay with Aunt Matilda and Uncle Philbert. Simon's not sure he wants to go. When people talk about Aunt Matilda, they raise their eyebrows and say, "Isn't she sort of . . . you know?" Simon has to fill in the blanks himself, and wonders if his great-aunt is a coldhearted child-hater. Actually, she's nothing worse than the owner of a trio of llamas, a 1946 New York taxi cab, and two horses saved from a glue factory. Both she and her husband, "the rudest man in the world," are bent on tearing down the rules of convention and propriety. They serve Simon pizza for breakfast and pie for supper, and start right in on his "un-lessons," teaching him how to burp, spit, and play tunes with his armpit.

Reminiscent of Betty MacDonald's stories of Mrs. Piggle- Wiggle, this is rollicking good fun, with much of the drollery captured in Smith's black-and-white illustrations. MacDonald (Cousin Ruth's Tooth, p. 230, etc.) limns a satisfying conversion of Simon from goody-goody to a boy who won't take any guff. Sharp characterizations and crack dialogue will have readers laughing out loud.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780531088920
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/1996
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
6.21(w) x 9.19(h) x 0.67(d)
Lexile:
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

SOrt Of...YOu KnOw

Where was Aunt Matilda?

Simon Maxwell stepped off the train and scanned the empty station parking lot. I must be late, he thought nervously. She must have gotten tired of waiting and gone home.

And though he'd never met his great-aunt, he imaginedhow cross she would look-her bony hands twitching, her black eyes flashing -- as Simon apologized for making her drive to the station twice.

"I'm very sorry, Aunt Matilda," he would say, even though it wasn't his fault that the train was late.

And then she'd say, grumpily, "Humph, well, nothing to be done about it. What's done is done."

The reason Simon was not looking forward to meet ing his great-aunt Matilda was that he knew very little about her. And the few things he did know about her had him worried. He knew she was very old. And he knew that the older people got, the grouchier and crankier they got, and the less they liked children. And Aunt Matilda hadn't even wanted him to come and stay in the first place -- that much he knew for sure. Simon had been told all his life that it was rude to invite yourself to someone else's house -- but that's exactly what his parents had done. They'd called up Aunt Matilda and "invited" Simon to go stay with her and Uncle Philbert. Some vacation this was going to be!

Simon dragged his suitcase over to a bench and sat down. He watched a spider trapping a fly in its web while he tried to think what he might do if no one at all came to pick him up. Thispleasant daydream was interrupted by the scrape of tires on gravel.

An ancient black car pulled into the station in a cloud of dust. The door opened and a woman heaved herself out. She had piles of white hair that seemed intent on escaping from the weight of an enormous hat with purple feathers. Her eyes drooped at the corners and were not black (as he had imagined) but emerald. And she was not tall and bony, but small, rounded, and padded like a comfortable armchair.

"You're Simon," she said, puffing, "and I'm late." Simon stuck out his hand politely, but the woman surrounded him in a hug that smelled of lavender and licorice. "So, Simon Maxwell," she said, releasing him halfway, "how does your corporosity seem to gashiate?"

"Excuse me?" said Simon.

"Your corporosity," said the woman. "Is it gashiating nicely?"

Since Simon couldn't answer this curious question, he asked meekly, "Are you Aunt Matilda?"

"Of course I am, child!" she said. "I did not introduce myself because it's much more fun to try to guess who everybody is. And please call me Mattie. Everyone does. Have you been waiting long?"

Simon hesitated. He couldn't lie. But if he told the truth, it might sound rude, as if he was cross at Aunt Matilda -- Aunt Mattie -- for being so late.

"Only twenty minutes," he said at last, struggling as usual to be both truthful and polite.

"Oh, good," said Aunt Mattie. "I always try to be at least fifteen minutes late."

If Simon was surprised at this remark, he didn't have time to show it. His aunt swept him into the dilapidated car; first removing a large goldfish bowl from the front seat. Water sloshed over the sides, and the startled fish swam in frantic circles. "Don't you just hate goldfish?" She sighed. Simon, who had two goldfish of his own for pets, kept silent. "Someone gave these to me and so I do my best to make their lives interesting. They must get so bored in that bowl. Same old view, day after day. I'm taking them for a drive today. A change of scenery will cheer them up, don't you agree?"

The car finally started on the third try, and they lurched from the parking lot. Simon buckled his seat belt and looked over at his great-aunt curiously. This wasn't easy to do, since a potted ivy plant hung from the roof of the car, swaying between them. Simon wanted to tell Aunt Mattie he agreed with her about goldfish. But he felt somehow that would be unfair to his other aunt, Aunt Bea, who had given the fish to him for his birthday. After all, goldfish were better than no pets at all, sort of. And Simon's mother had never allowed him to have other pets, because, she said, they made too much mess, and think of the fleas and the germs, and Simon would never take care of them, and who would look after them when the family went on trips, and, and, and ... Well, she had a million reasons.

But instead of explaining any of this to his great-aunt, Simon simply said, "Yes, Aunt Mattie."

He gripped the door handle as the car careened over the road at a terrific speed. His aunt, though broad, was quite short, and her head just barely peeped above the steering wheel. It was hard to imagine that she could see over it at all.

"Now then," she said briskly, "tell me truly, do I look the way you thought I would? Hmm? Be honest."

But Simon couldn't. He just couldn't find a polite way to say, You're fatter than I imagined." Or maybe, "I thought you would be skinny, like a witch." Or, "You are even older than I thought." If there was one thing his parents had taught him, it was that it was rude to make "personal" comments about people. You mustn't say they were fat or thin or had dimples or didn't have dimples or were hairy or bald or anythingeven if it was true.

No More Nice. Copyright � by Amy MacDonald. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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