Manners books for children may sound a little old-fashioned, but thank goodness they aren’t. I’ve come to realize that children of a certain age love learning rules and getting to understand social construct; my own five year-old thinks it’s about the most impressive thing in the world when she remembers to put her napkin on her lap. (Woot!)
Now there’s a book from none other than New York City’s own Four Seasons Restaurant that creates a perfectly lovely primer on dining etiquette for children — and it’s not preachy or annoying in the least. In fact, it’s pretty hilarious.
And it just may help you when you’re ready to take your children somewhere that (gasp) doesn’t let you draw on the tablecloth.
Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons not only takes place in one of Manhattan’s greatest power lunch/fancy dinner institutions, it was actually co-authored by Four Seasons co-owner Alex von Bidder. It features Wiggens the Chocolate Lab, charmingly illustrated by Leslie McGuirk, a puppy who starts out a little uh…rambunctious? (Not that I know kids like that.) But after heading to the restaurant for a crash course in dining out with a saintly St Bernard, he comes to learn ten lessons about manners.
My favorite: “Always be willing to take a bite of something new.” One can only hope.
The writing is funny, the little buried jokes throughout the pages have my kids giggling, and for a book about eating in a very expensive restaurant, it’s not pretentious at all.
I love this book for a million reasons, not the least of which is my own adoration of the institution that is the Four Seasons. With the mid-century decor, the jaw-dropping modern art on the walls, the always great people watching (Martha Stewart! Peter Jennings!) and the surprise birthday platters of cotton candy with a candle on top, it’s the place we love to celebrate our special–very special–occasions.
Of course you may know it better as the restaurant where Bethenny got married.
If you’ve been there yourself, your kids will adore recognizing the impressive staircase and the giant Picasso tapestry in the hall. If you’ve never even stepped foot in New York City, it’s still a terrific book on good behavior when dining out. Far better than reading about what’s-her-name at the Plaza who colors on the walls and torments the elevator men.