Following up on her book of manners for girls, A Little Princess in the Making, Emilie Barnes also offers A Little Hero in the Making, just for boys.
Drawing on the desire of some young boys to emulate comic book, sports, and other types of heroes, Barnes begins by saying:
"So are you ready to become a real-world hero? Got your cape tied on? Ready to become a little hero 'in the making'? Great! Let's get ready to fly...and master those manners!"
Every four pages then explores a different set of manners: helping at home (including using words like "please," "thank you," "excuse me," and "I'm sorry"), being a good playmate, meeting new people out in the world, hygiene, table manners, and having a brave heart.
For example, in the chapter on meeting new people, Barnes writes:
"Sometimes when you're out exploring your world, you might meet someone who looks or acts a little different. But inside, they are just the same as you. They deserve a hero's friendship, too!
The best thing to do when you meet anyone new is to smile at them and say 'hello.' You can shake their hand - that's a very grown-up thing to do...Heroes also show kindness to others by calling them what they would like to be called - Mr. Lawnmower or Mrs. Snapdragon or Dr. Sniffle. That shows kindness and respect - and it's very brave of you."
What I Like: I appreciate that Barnes is trying to instill manners in boys in a fun way. Michal Sparks' watercolor illustrations are charming, showing boys playing sports, wearing red capes, and wearing armor. I especially like the comic books pages in the book, showing young boys doing "heroic" (that is, polite) things.
What I Dislike: Barnes has taken the meat from A Little Princess in the Making and put a superficial slant of heroism on it. In other words, while Barnes did a great job of interweaving princess-like things in her book for girls, she does a poor job of making manners make sense with heroism. I also wish she'd more often cited scripture; she really does so only once, when she quotes the Golden Rule (but doesn't tell us it comes from the Bible). Sparks' comic book pages do a much better job of putting forth good manners in a way that appeals to boys; too bad there are only three pages of those comics in this book.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: 4 - 8
Publisher Info: Harvest House, 2007; ISBN: 0736919783; hardback; $14.99