Please, Mr. Panda, by Steve Antony; Scholastic Press, $16.99, 32 pages, ages 2-6.
Etiquette gets a furry makeover in this good-natured primer on proper behavior. British artist Steve Antony (Betty Goes Bananas; The Queen’s Hat) returns to the world of picture books with a surprisingly generous, yet straight-lipped panda, who patiently surveys his animal friends to see if they would like a doughnut. While most jump at the chance to savor a sugary confection, they do not employ the magic words, and the panda reneges on his offer until someone asks him politely. All the animals are rendered with graphite pencils in bold strokes of black and white, and the bright pink, red and purple colored doughnuts pop off the page. The recurring dialogue makes this a wonderfully fun and engaging read-aloud, and children just on the cusp of independent reading might even be tempted to decipher the words on their own.