And the Tale of Bratsville
Teaching Morals and Manners
by Gene Del Vecchio
Illustrated by Roderick Fong
BetterNot! And the Tale of Bratsville - Teaching Morals and Manners, is a magical, fun story of a town filled with very naughty children like Larry Liar, Rebecca Robber and Lilly Loudmouth. Their parents could not make them behave no matter what they tried. As the parents told their children again and again what they better not do, the magical creature named BetterNot rose from his magical, bubbling purple swamp to come to their aid. He swooped into town to teach each child a fun yet valuable lesson in a way that fit each child's poor behavior. Children everywhere need to obey their parents. If they do not, BetterNot might come to your town, too! Look for future books in this series.
I'm usually pretty wary about books with a mission such as this one has, so when I picked it up, I was already tilting toward the 'con' side. I'm glad to admit that when I laid this book down, I didn't feel as anti anymore.
This book is obviously about manner and morals, and as the reader might guess, Bratsville is packed full of kids who haven't learned either one. The town's problem is laid out in a row of funny illustrations and descriptions, which over-stretch a whole bunch of different 'bad habits' kids might have. I found it interesting that although the author also rattles off all the reasons why these kids are behaving badly, he purposefully doesn't point fingers.
The illustrations are a little rough but perfect (especially in the 2nd half of the book). My kids caught a glimpse and immediately wanted to flip through every one. They laughed and snickered. . .and I'll admit, I did too. The rhyming, at times, doesn't flow quite as nicely as it could and felt a bit forced. . .hence my 4 stars instead of 5.
In many ways, this reminded me of the traditional German kid's book MAX AND MORITZ or even in some ways of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. In Bratsville, the kids are taught a lesson, each according to their problem, and not only will the results make your kids laugh. . .but these kids will never forget the lesson again.
Some parents might find the lessons a bit much, so I'll note that here, but in my opinion, this is a manner book which really knows how to hit the kids just right. . .and they'll want to read this one again and again.
And here he is. . .
GENE DEL VECCHIO!!!
Gene Del Vecchio is an author, entertainment consultant, educator, husband, and father of two. His first young adult novel, The Pearl of Anton, was honored with a starred review in Booklist, while the sequel, The Sword of Anton, was honored with the Young Adults' Choices Award from the International Reading Association. His latest effort is a picture book for children ages 4 to 8 titled BetterNot! And the Tale of Bratsville - Teaching Morals and Manners. It is recommended by the Midwest Book Review and Kirkus Review. He teaches at USC.