Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dinner at Alberta's by Russell Hoban

This story was about a crocodile name Arthur who does not have good table manners. His parents and his sister try to correct him at dinner but he just won't listen. Every time they correct him he ends up getting discouraged and leaves the table to go play his guitar very loudly. His sister, Emma brings her friend Alberta to dinner one night and Arthur watches her through the whole dinner. He begins to copy her manners at the table; when she breaks a piece of bread off to butter it Arthur does too. Then, Alberta invites Arthur and Emma over to her house for dinner. Immediately, Arthur's family begins working with him on his manners and how to act. When goes to dinner he does very well and behaves just as his family has taught him. Alberta's family is very pleased with him and tells Alberta's brother to learn from Arthur.

This book was really sweet and a good way to discuss table manners. I could see it being very helpful for children when they are beginning to understand manners and behaviors. I thought the book was somewhat stereotypical and I would have some concerns about having it and reading it in my classroom. There was a line in the book that said "boys are trouble" and throughout the entire book Arthur is getting in trouble for anything and everything while his sister is not. He is being told to watch his sister and listen to her so he can learn how to behave. In a classroom, it is important to get rid of stereotypes as much as possible and I definitely think this is one of the most common stereotypes that teachers see. Not all boys are going to be trouble and not all girls are going to be perfect angels so it is important not to promote these ideas to students.

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