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Don't Wear Polka-Dot Underwear with White Pants: (And Other Lessons I've Learned)

Don't Wear Polka-Dot Underwear with White Pants: (And Other Lessons I've Learned)

5.0 9
by Allison Gutknecht, Stevie Lewis (Illustrator)

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Eight-year-old Mandy Berr learns life lessons with patriotic pizazz in the first adventure of a new chapter book series.

Eight-year-old Mandy Berr has a lot going on. She has to share her parents’ attention with her newborn twin siblings, who are always crying, and her little brother, Timmy, who is constantly in her way. And she also has to find a way


Eight-year-old Mandy Berr learns life lessons with patriotic pizazz in the first adventure of a new chapter book series.

Eight-year-old Mandy Berr has a lot going on. She has to share her parents’ attention with her newborn twin siblings, who are always crying, and her little brother, Timmy, who is constantly in her way. And she also has to find a way to deal with her nemesis, Dennis, who has a knack for getting under her skin.

At least Mandy has the upcoming Presidential Pageant to look forward to at school. She is determined to be President George Washington—she is perfect for the lead part, after all. But when Mandy’s teacher makes a surprising choice, it looks like Mandy will have to keep sharing the spotlight. Can she find her own way to shine?

Mandy has some valuable life lessons to learns in this adorable chapter book—including the fact that white pants and polka dot underwear are never a good combination.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Eight-year-old Mandy Berr remembers her five years without siblings as the best time of her life. Now she has an annoying three-year-old brother, and the five-month-old twins take up way too much of her mother's time and are always "damp." Mandy also has to contend with Dennis, who makes fun of her in school for wearing polka dot underwear that shows through her white pants, and her teacher doesn't listen when Mandy asks to be George Washington in the second-grade's Presidential Pageant. During difficult days, she takes solace in her love for her toy cat/TV character Rainbow Sparkle; her stash of gummy bears; and everything periwinkle. She is given the role of narrator in the pageant, learns to compromise and rehearses well, and enjoys the feeling of success and the undivided attention of her parents at the event. A few black-and-white line illustrations appear throughout. Gutknecht portrays Mandy as a typical, egocentric second grader. While this early chapter book is not a necessary purchase, children will relate to the protagonist.—Annette Herbert, F. E. Smith Elementary School, Cortland, NY
Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
Could a second-grade mother ever know best? Or even listen? Not according to second-grader Mandy Berr, who stomps through life in a fury, solaced only by gummy bears. It is just so good to squish and stretch their heads and then bite them off for a sugar rush. Mandy faces and survives various disasters: her polka-dot underwear shows through the white pants her mother makes her wear; her teacher simply does not understand that Mandy should play President Washington in the class pageant; her little brother does not get the comic lines in her narrator part; she drops her almost best friend when the friend joins in on the laughter about Mandy’s missed cartwheel; and her father catches her about to sneak into her neighbor’s house. Both teacher and mother treasure Mandy’s creative instinct, and even her company when she’s not stomping mad. And when she is happy even her toddler brother and baby twin brothers can be pretty fun! Mandy learns a few rules (some silly) for survival, shared in the back matter. Second-graders will probably love Mandy as she goes through her first-born blues with a smart, sassy in-your-face attitude, but parents may tire of her quickly, especially if their daughters start channeling her voice. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg AGERANGE: Ages 6 to 12.
Kirkus Reviews
Second-grader Mandy (her mother thinks it's "Amanda") has strong opinions about everything, including her name. Whether it's her love of the color periwinkle or her disdain for the color pink, Mandy holds firm to her opinions. She tries to love her baby twins, Samantha and Cody, but they are always "damp," and she barely tolerates her little brother Timmy. As the oldest child, she feels she can be the boss of the family. She loves Rainbow Sparkle, a cartoon cat with a TV show of her own, and she wants to be George Washington in her class's Presidential Pageant. She really does not like her new nickname, "Polka Dot," which is what her classmate Dennis calls her after her polka-dot underwear showed through the awful white pants her mother forced her to wear. Eventually, and a little too neatly, all is resolved: Mandy finally appreciates her roles in the class pageant, with her former nemesis, Natalie, and in her very own family. Readers of the Clementine series will find similarities, especially the first-person narration that gives readers a front-row seat into Mandy's brain. However, it's hard to find much to like in this whiny 8-year-old until the very end. A less-strident Mandy would be welcome if she makes any further appearances. (Fiction. 6-9)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 7.66(h) x 0.48(d)
920L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Don’t Wear Polka-Dot Underwear with White Pants


The Trouble with White Pants

I KEEP TELLING MOM ABOUT the White Pants, and she says to wear them anyway.

“They will make me fall down,” I explain.

“Pants do not make you fall down, Amanda,” Mom answers, because she does not understand anything at all.

“Yes, they do.” I stomp my foot and cross my arms and put on my very best “I am pouting now” face. “White pants like dirt, and they will make me fall in it.”

“Then be extra careful at recess, please,” Mom says, holding the awful pants open for me to step in.


Mom sighs a big gust of breath in my face and stares at me with her “I mean business” eyes. “Amanda Berr, I am going to count to three.”

“I will get ketchup on them,” I say.

“One . . .”

“I will drop marker on them,” I say.

“Two . . .”

I groan like a dinosaur and lift up one leg just so Mom will stop counting.

“Here is a deal,” I begin. “I will wear these awful white pants if you buy me periwinkle pants.” My favorite color is periwinkle. It is more beautiful than blue and more perfect than purple and it is a fun name to say. But I do not have one piece of periwinkle clothing, and I think this is unfair. I checked my whole entire closet—shirts and shorts and dresses and ugly fancy blouses that Mom keeps in plastic until Easter. No periwinkle. I had held my periwinkle crayon from my box of 152 colors up to each piece, just to be sure. And still nothing.

Meet the Author

Allison Gutknecht grew up in Voorhees, New Jersey, with three fewer siblings than Mandy Berr. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she earned her Master’s degree in Children’s Media and Literature from NYU. Allison lives in New York City with her rambunctious toy poodle, Gypsy, and her literate cat, Folly. She is a massive fan of polka dots.

Stevie Lewis grew up in Southern California and works in the animation industry as a visual development artist. She studied computer animation at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, rock climbing, baking cookies, browsing thrift shops, and drinking delicious coffee! She lives in San Francisco with her two little dogs.

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Don't Wear Polka Dot Underwear with White Pants (And Other Lessons I've Learned) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mandy Berr, the bright and quick-witted oldest of four, narrates this captivating tale of the joys and hardships that come with being a second grader.  From pesky siblings to freckled bullies, Mandy navigates the complex life of elementary school, learning valuable lessons ranging from fashion to friendship.  Mandy is by no means the perfect child, and is unique among children's characters as she has her own opinions.  She engages children through her often candid and frank sentiments, followed by the token phrase, "If I am being honest."  Her voice places no distance between the reader and her ever changing views on people and things.  The reader feels with her and grows with her, through her disappointment at not getting the part in the pageant that she wants, her embarasment at not being able to do a cartwheel, and ultimately, her realization that things are not always as bad as they first appear. I encourage children and adults alike to spend some time getting to know Mandy Berr, and I am sure they will fall as much in love with her as I have!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a winner. And FYI…its great for girls AND boys! I originally bought this book for my 7 year old daughter because she loves to read, loves humor and I knew she'd love Mandy's "sassiness". Funny enough, not only did she love it, but my 10 year old reluctant reading son (who ONLY will read sports books) wanted in on the action and couldn't put it down. The cackling that ensued from the start to finish was infectious and we all wound up reading it together and giggling (and at times cringing!). Our only disappointment…that it had to end! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read for both kids and adults. My 7-year old and I had a blast reading this book together. Her favorite part was when Mandy Berr was in the President's pageant play. We can't wait to read the other books by this author. Hope you enjoy reading about Mandy Berr as much as we have.
cupcakelover12 More than 1 year ago
This is a cool, fun, wacky book!
Sheryl Miles More than 1 year ago
Mychel More than 1 year ago
8 year old Mandy is a feisty little girl. Her adventures throughout her school year is hysterically funny. You can relate, especially if you have a child in grade school. Her logic of thinking and rationalizing keeps you wanting to read more. Excellent book, would highly recommend all the books by this Author. Have read all so far :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this book is great. It made me laugh at times seeing what happens to Mandy, but I would be embarrassed by some of the things that happened to her. I would recommend this book to others! ~ChloeB 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I bought this for my niece as a Christmas present, I couldn’t help but read it myself, too. This book follows the daily life of Mandy Berr, a spunky second grader vying for a spot in her school’s upcoming Presidential Pageant. The reader is introduced to Mandy’s friends, foes, and family members through amusing encounters – everything from playing “squash the lemon” on the playground to erecting gummy bear encampments out of pillows. Each chapter cleverly carries Mandy through a valuable lesson without missing a step towards the story arc. The final chapter, which concludes with several heart-warming moments for the main character, also leaves the reader with a humorous summary of “Mandy’s Lessons.” Through Mandy, the author weaves wit, humor, and charm into a very fun narrative. Mandy’s overly honest and sassy opinions make for a lot of laugh-out-loud moments and highly relatable situations for young readers and any of us who thought we knew it all when we were eight years old. This a must read for ages 7 to 107. It will not disappoint.