Mary Wrightly, So Politely
Mary Wrightly So Politely
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Shirin Yim Bridges, illus. by Maria Monescillo
ISBN 9780547342481
Harcourt/HMH, 2013.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: birthdays family manners mary-so-politely new-sibling shirin-yim-bridges

Mary Wrightly, So Politely
by Shirin Yim Bridges, illus. by Maria Monescillo

Author Shirin Yim Bridges (Ruby's Wish) and artist Maria Monescillo (Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime) introduce a winning heroine who's very polite--until she needs to stand up for herself and be heard.

Bridges introduces Mary Wrightly as "a good, polite little girl who spoke in a small, soft voice" and says "please" and "thank you." Mary must often repeat herself because her voice is "so small and soft." When she tells her class, "My name is Mary and I have a baby brother," Monescillo depicts the other children carrying on with their activities, unaware that she's speaking. She conveys Mary's contentment as she spends time in (what we later learn is) her brother's room. Just before her brother's first birthday, Mary asks her mother if they can go to the toy store, so she can buy him a present. The palette of Monescillo's pastel illustrations creates continuity between Mary's school and home life, as well as the toy store, and hints at Mary's sense of inner calm and confidence--despite her quiet voice. So even though she gives up her seat on the bus, apologizes when a boy steps on her foot, and acquiesces to two shoppers who take gifts Mary had picked out for her brother, youngsters suspect that underneath her polite exterior, Mary is no doormat.

Indeed, when the moment arises, Mary finds her voice and gets what she needs. This gently paced tale shows children there's room for both courtesy and confidence.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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