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Review of People Don’t Bite People

People Don’t Bite People
by Lisa Wheeler; illus. by Molly Idle
Preschool    Atheneum    40 pp.
4/18    978-1-4814-9082-5    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-9083-2    $10.99

In subversively lilting rhymed verse, Wheeler enumerates the reasons “people don’t bite people” and suggests alternatives: “It’s good to bite a biscuit. / It’s good to bite a plum. / It’s BAD to bite your brother. / He’s not a piece of gum.” The humorous text is all fun and games (the refrain: “Biting is for food!”), but the underlying message about anger management is useful and age appropriate. Idle’s dynamic colored-pencil illustrations use many of her familiar poses from her Flora books, both graceful (the mail carrier, with that leg extension, could moonlight with the ballet) and petulant (a backs-turned, tea-party tiff recalls Flora and all of her avian friends at one point or another). Occasional panels pace the action and extend the humor. Simple rounded shapes in saturated hues, surrounded by dimension-giving, drop-shadow outlines, keep the pictures clean, lighthearted, and easy to follow. A sweet conclusion that smartly anticipates preschooler logic provides an exception to the no-biting rule: “People don’t bite people! / It really isn’t right. / But if their head is gingerbread… / go on and take a bite!”

From the March/April 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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