Don’t Bite Your Classmates (or Worse)

Lynn: Small children have so many things to learn, and dealing with frustration and anger is one of them. As parents and teachers know to their sorrow, some toddlers resort to chomping the object of their ire. It’s a tough problem, and when I read a book recently that addressed biting, I told Cindy I didn’t remember ever seeing the issue raised in a picture book. One short month later, I chanced on a second! Both are excellent. So, here’s some help for all those dealing with little biters.

People Don't Bite People by Lisa WheelerPeople Don’t Bite People (2017) by Lisa Wheeler takes the issue head on with bouncy exuberant rhymes:

People don’t bite people.

It’s nasty and it’s rude.

A friend will never bite a friend.


The text explains that even if you are mad or someone takes your toy, “You’re not a zombie, dude!” The repeating refrain, while very funny, will also be a very useful reminder to small offenders that there are much better things to do with your teeth. Molly Idle’s illustrations of colorful, round figures add greatly to the fun. Comic details will have everyone giggling.

We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. HigginsRyan Higgins takes the admonitions one step further with a hilarious new picture book, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates (2018). Here, a young dinosaur, Penelope Rex, goes to school for the first time and discovers that her classmates are all children. So she eats them. (Children are delicious!) Fortunately, the teacher is on the job.

“We don’t eat our classmates! Please spit them out at once!” Penelope does, which results in some soggy, gooey, and VERY disgruntled children. Penelope tries hard, but she just can’t stop herself from eating the other students. It  takes one big chomp from the classroom goldfish for Penelope to learn that being bitten hurts, and all ends happily.

Higgins’s tongue-in-cheek story is laugh-out-loud funny, but the message is nicely threaded into the story and young readers will pick it out easily. Penelope may be a T-Rex, but she is adorable in pink coveralls, and no students are digested. Higgins’ illustrations are a total delight, and he takes advantage of the book’s extra-wide format with plenty of comic details and interesting perspectives. Be prepared for readers to eat this one up!





About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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