A short book about table manners aimed at kids is about all I can manage today. I'm in the trough of the sixth round of chemo and feeling pretty naff; this is as challenging as it gets for me!
And... it's a coincidence. I'd ordered it a while ago, and it just happened to turn up today. You'll not be surprised to learn that I didn't actually order if for me, but for our kids. On the other hand, I wanted to take a read through it before handing it over. It's an American book, and table manners can be a little bit different there, so I wanted to check it out. It turns out good manners are still pretty consistent across the Atlantic. The biggest gap I could find is them calling their main course the "entrée".
Maybe you shouldn't be rude about your children in book reviews, but my children do have horrendous table manners. Partly they still think it's funny to act like a baby as they enter their teenage years, but they also don't seem to understand that you shouldn't just start wandering around in the middle of a meal. I blame the parents.
This book... doesn't help with that. Apparently it's too basic to even bother writing this stuff down. So my hope is that by setting some higher goals they'll maybe also cotton on to the basics. We shall see.
Why did I even order an American manners book with an impressively slow lead time? Mostly because the options are otherwise really poor. I did the usual Amazon research, and the UK options weren't great. Many of the US options were self-published piles of junk from Moms who reckon they know something. Quality-wise, this book was in a different league.
So, to the meat of this review: It is a good book. When it arrived, my wife picked it up, flicked through, and... kept reading. Eventually, she said "This is a good book." This is not normally how it goes.
It's a short, light hardback of 100 pages. The text is not dense and it has a decent number of cartoons. It is targeted well at kids, and provides both the generalities of good manners as a way of not grossing-out your dining companions, and specifics of how to confidently handle e.g. cutlery and particular foods. It takes a child through a five course meal, but also guides how to behave in a food court or school cafeteria. It's just... incredibly solid. I love it.
As I said earlier, its baseline expectation of a reader is someone who gets the idea of good manners, and wants to improve. It doesn't explicitly explain how nobody wants to see the food go round your mouth as you chew. It has yet to be tested on actual kids, so I cannot give a real-world recommendation as yet. I am, however, very hopeful as I hand it over.