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The Man with Bad Manners

The Man with Bad Manners

by Rose Mary Santiago (Illustrator), Idries Shah

This story is about a very badly behaved man – how a young boy invents a plan to change his behavior – and, with the help of the other villagers, succeeds.

This book is one of a series of illustrated Teaching-Stories by Idries Shah, stories which have captivated hearts and minds for more than a thousand years. The stories are designed to help


This story is about a very badly behaved man – how a young boy invents a plan to change his behavior – and, with the help of the other villagers, succeeds.

This book is one of a series of illustrated Teaching-Stories by Idries Shah, stories which have captivated hearts and minds for more than a thousand years. The stories are designed to help children learn to examine their assumptions and to think for themselves. Children, of course, love the idea of an adult behaving badly. At the same time the story helps children learn valuable lessons about initiative, negotiation, conflict resolution, and cooperation.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hoopoe Books spans the globe to offer four picture-book-and-CD packages featuring stories from the Sufi tradition adapted to Western culture by Afghani author Indries Shah. A roster of talented narrators serves up vibrant, often buttery-toned readings of these entertaining fables. Titles contain an educational introduction, narration with page-turn signals (and without signals), and all are available in Spanish and English, as well as hardcover and paperback. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A man in the village has the most horrendous manners and is driving everyone crazy. A simple "Good Morning" gets a silly "Blah, blah, blah" in return. When the man's bad behavior escalates and he begins banging cans and making a ruckus in the night, the villagers are at their wits' end. When the man takes off on a trip, a collective sigh of relief is heard. A clever young boy devises a plan to force the man to change his ways upon his return. They paint his house, change his field around, and convince the man that he is in the wrong village. When the man sadly realizes he is not wanted, the boy promises him he will tell him what happened if he promises to change his ways. This Afghani folktale, adapted to our Western culture, is billed as a story designed to teach conflict resolution, initiative, and cooperation. Santiago's bold illustrations are just the right touch for this tale of adaptation and change. A CD, complete with signals for page turning, accompanies the book. 2003, Hoopoe Books, Ages 5 to 8.
—Joan Kindig, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-In this tale from Afghanistan, Idries Shah tells the story of a mean old man with very bad manners. Whenever the people of the village try to talk to him, all he says is "Blah, blah, blah," and "blee, blee, blee." Things get even worse when the man begins to stand outside the villagers homes and bang pans for no reason. When he goes to visit friends in another village, a clever boy convinces the townspeople that there is a way to improve the man's manners. They follow his advice and change the crop that he grows, paint his house a different color, and rearrange everything in his house. When he returns, the old man is convinced that this is no longer his house, but it can be put back the way it was if he promises to change his ways. He agrees, and everyone is happy. Bright, bold illustrations by Rose Mary Santiago feature a cast of multicultural characters living in a setting that could be any small town. The narration begins with instructions for parents on sharing this story with their children and discussing the lessons relating to conflict resolution, initiative, cooperation, and an alternative way of seeing things. The narration by Linda Sher and Michael Ashcroft gives each character a distinct voice. A fine addition to folk tale collections.-Veronica Schwartz, Des Plaines Public Library, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This wry but heavily stylized folktale may amuse young readers, but it's not going to convince them of anything. When an oppressively rude, slovenly villager leaves on a brief trip, his annoyed neighbors scurry to replant his fields and paint his house a different color in an effort to make him think that he's in the wrong town when he comes back. The stratagem works; so confused is he that he promises to change his ways if someone will point him toward his real home-whereupon the villagers describe what they've done, and set it all back to rights. Santiago transplants the tale from its original, unspecified Middle Eastern setting to a contemporary European or American town, inhabited by a physically diverse cast of mildly annoyed-looking neatniks. This may spark some discussion about conforming to community standards, but it makes a better noodlehead story than teaching tale. No source note. (Picture book folktale. 6-8)
From the Publisher
This Afghani folktale has been recast in a modern Western setting, though Santiago's brilliantly hued, naive paintings give it a timeless quality. In a quaint village with well-cultivated gardens, everyone is courteous except for one man. He babbles "blah, blah, blah" in response to others' greetings, and in the night, bangs cans loudly. Everyone is happy when he leaves to visit friends in another village. A clever boy points out, though, that their problems aren't over yet, since the man will return. He has an idea that may make the rude fellow change his ways. This ingenious plan, carried out with the villagers' full cooperation, results in a happy ending for one and all. The tale's mild didacticism is leavened by Shah's gentle retelling and Santiago's artfully lighthearted illustrations. The artist has created a whimsically idyllic village of chunky houses surrounded by sunflowers and small gardens. Her delightfully childlike figures, with their comically exaggerated expressions, are perfectly cast to carry out this story's message of peaceful conflict resolution.
- School Library Journal

Afghan writer Shah tells of a badly behaved man who refuses to greet people properly, instead saying "blah blah blah" and "blee blee blee." He also bangs loudly on tin cans at night, so the villagers decide to teach the rude fellow a lesson. Narrator Michael Ashcraft has a great deal of fun with the sound effects--his BLEEs and BLAHs are hearty, and his BANG BANG BANGS are appropriately loud and irritating. Young children will enjoy following along and will especially be pleased by the bright illustrations that complement Ashcraft's lively narration. Although this story is from another culture, its themes (the value of manners in helping people get along) are universal.
- AudioFile

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.30(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
3 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Idries Shah spent much of his life collecting Sufi classical narratives and teaching stories from oral and written sources in the Middle East and Central Asia and publishing them in book form. The eleven tales he wrote especially for children are published by Hoopoe as beautifully illustrated books, all of which have been commended by Western educators and psychologists, the Library of Congress, National Public Radio and other media for their unique ability to foster social-emotional development, thinking skills and perception in children and adults alike. Told for centuries, these stories express universal themes and a positive representation of important but often misunderstood cultures, showing how much we have in common and what we can learn from each other. They acknowledge a child's individuality and uniqueness and encourage a sense of confidence, responsibility and purpose.

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