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Tales for the Perfect Child

Tales for the Perfect Child

by Florence Parry Heide, Victoria Chess (Illustrator)

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Meet Ruby. She watches her little brother just like her mother asked her to — and keeps right on watching while he turns the house upside down. Then there's Arthur. He listens to his mother and dresses like a perfect gentlemen — until some conveniently spilled juice gives him the excuse he needs to slip into something more comfortable. Can any child be


Meet Ruby. She watches her little brother just like her mother asked her to — and keeps right on watching while he turns the house upside down. Then there's Arthur. He listens to his mother and dresses like a perfect gentlemen — until some conveniently spilled juice gives him the excuse he needs to slip into something more comfortable. Can any child be trusted to read about these seven perfect little monsters without trying anything equally naughty?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chess's pictures of anthropomorphic bears, imaginatively attired, do justice to these stories, among the most fiendish inventions by the author of the Treehorn epics. Heide soberly recites trenchant stories of the ways adopted by boys and girls beside whom even really rotten children would seem perfect. Harriet, for instance, assiduously practices whining and proves unbeatable at the art. ``A good whiner sticks to one subject . . . never gives up.'' Harriet wears her mother down and gets her way, no matter how long it takes. Then she rests, stops whining, until it's time for another match. Irving likes to wear disgraceful clothes and loll about the house. When his mother orders Irving to dress in his best and pay a social call with her, he obeys. Then he gets so dirty, accidentally, that he has to stay home. The other kids in the book are equally ingenious at evil and good for laughs. (710)
Children's Literature - Bonnie Bruneau
Seven amusing stories are included in this delightful book. Each story features a perfect child who acts like a perfect little monster. Ruby's mother tells her to watch her little brother. So Ruby watches while he destroys the house and makes a mess of it. Gertrude and Gloria are supposed to help with the dishes. Gloria cleans, dries, and puts away the dishes very carefully. Gertrude, on the other hand, hates doing dishes. So she breaks several of them. Her mother then will not let her help with the dishes anymore, and Gloria has to do them instead. The devilish children in these funny tales do naughty little things to get their own way, which annoys the grown-ups. 1999 (orig.
May/June 2017 The Horn Book Magazine
"These two cheeky collecitons of very brief stories feature realistically self-centered children or anthropomorphic animals with one thing in common: they know how to game the system and/or play adults.... These new editions are sized perfectly for a child's hands.... Ruzzier's interpretation here is entirely original, yet he is surely [Victoria] Chess's heir apparent: their work shares the same insouciance and subversiveness."
January 2017 Booklist
"This new edition of a collection by Heide, originally published in 1985, is full of entertaining short stories featuring seemingly perfect children. On the surface, they seem to do exactly as they are told, but young readers will laugh as they realize that this doesn't mean the characters are doing what they are supposed to do.... Ruzzier's expressive, wry illustrations, new to this edition, show the perfect children being perfectly devious, and little ones will love pointing out the characters' many schemes. With short sentences ideal for emerging readers, this collection could work for either shared or solo reading. Kids with a bit of a naughty side will be eager to get their hands on these mischievous tales."
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—A collection of eight short stories about children using clever and sneaky techniques to achieve their objectives. These goals directly conflict with the wishes of their persistent parents. Ruby doesn't want to watch her baby brother. Arthur does not want to get dressed up. Harry does not like carrots. All of these children, and others, plot and scheme to get exactly what they want. The children are represented by humanized animals with telling facial expressions. Ruzzier's two-color illustrations have a playful cartoon art appearance and accompany the text pleasingly. They also capture the hidden perspectives of some of the characters who are taken advantage of in each scenario. Their stories go untold. However, readers can easily identify feelings such as frustration and discontent in their expressive features. The tales have an engaging, poetic flow. Each humorous offering is crafted with an identical rhythmic structure. This format begins by capturing what each new character likes and does not like to do. It then describes the character's predicament and how the conflict is resolved. Heide trusts children to recognize and call out the dishonest and selfish actions and perhaps enjoy a vicarious laugh at the perfectly imperfect behavior. VERDICT A unique title to read aloud and talk about. For large collections.—Deanna Smith, Mamaroneck Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Impeccable instructions for triumphing over grown-ups.Originally published in 1985 with illustrations by Victoria Chess, this pleasing reissue with new illustrations and one new story still showcases spot-on techniques for getting the better of adults. The trim size is invitingly small and each story (there are eight), accessibly short. Where Chess supplied pictures of identical, hairy, but benign monsters, Ruzzier depicts a variety of recognizable anthropomorphic animals. Bertha, a duck in pants and a sweater, knots her own shoelaces to stall for time. Harriet, a kitten in a button-down shirtdress and bow tie, "was a very good whiner. She practiced and practiced, and so of course she got better and better at it." Several characters win by obeying letter but not spirit. Chick Ruby must watch her baby brother, so she watches him take everything, item by item, out of the cupboards and dump them on the kitchen floor. Piglet Harry (star of the new story) can't have ice cream until his carrots "are gone," so he tucks them into a plastic bag in his pocket. Using black and blue ink and ink wash, Ruzzier complements the textual humor by giving the animals indignant eyebrows, sly expressions of superiority, seriously recognizable pouts, and genuine satisfaction at their inevitable victories. While it's fun to imagine this as a manual that will pass clandestinely from child to child, the truth is that most kids know these techniques already. No harm, no foul—and no carrots. (Fiction. 5-8)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.28(w) x 7.59(h) x 0.23(d)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Florence Parry Heide (1919–2011) was the author of more than 100 children’s books, including picture books, juvenile novels, two series of young adult mysteries, plays, songbooks, and poetry. She may be best remembered for her now-classic The Shrinking of Treehorn and its two sequels, illustrated by the great Edward Gorey. Florence grew up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, married during World War Two, and spent her adult life in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with her husband and five children, all of whom grew up listening to the joyful sounds of an old typewriter.

Sergio Ruzzier is the author and illustrator of many children’s books, including A Letter for Leo, Bear and Bee, and Two Mice. He has created comic strips for Italian magazines Linus and Lupo Alberto Magazine. He has also done work for many national and international magazines and book publishers. His work has been awarded by American Illustration, The Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, The Society of Publication Designers, and Parents’ Choice, and in 2011 he was awarded the Sendak Fellowship. Born in Italy, he lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit Sergio at Ruzzier.com.

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