Mary Wrightly, So Politely by Shirin Yim Bridges

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This is a nearly perfect picture book.  Mary Wrightly, So Politely is satisfying and gentle, but best of all, it’s just a wonderful story. Almost magical in its own quiet and elegant way…

Mary Wrightly is polite. She is soft-spoken. She also has a baby brother who is about to turn a year old, and like any good sister, Mary wants to get him a birthday gift. You may be thinking…..nothing original about that. I know other stories about birthdays. But one of the most charming elements of Bridges’ book are the pastel illustrations by Maria Monescillo. I loved Mary by the time I got to page two. I think it’s the color palette – look at this:

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So…Mary wants to get a toy for her brother. When she and her mother visit a busy store, Mary sees all kinds of wonderful gifts that her little brother would like. But every time she reaches for something, another shopper beats her to it:

“That’s when Mary spotted a teddy bear. It was the perfect gift for her baby brother. But just as she reached for it…..a pair of hands whisked it away.”

Of course, Mary politely speaks up, but not too assertively. Her mother is talking with a friend so Mary continues her shopping mission with similar results. Ultimately, Mary speaks up, politely, but firmly. And here is another one of the elements that make this book a treasure. On the page where Mary asserts herself, the size of the font grows as Mary raises her voice. And she gets the perfect blue elephant for her brother. As a side note, the plush animals and dolls in the store are so “touchable” and cozy. If they existed in a real store, I’d be tempted to buy one for every young child I know!

Mary Wrightly, So Politely could be used to initiate a discussion about courtesy or simply enjoyed for the lovely story about being a good sister!

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