maya makes a mess

Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan

Maya doesn’t eat with very good manners at all.  She likes to eat with her hands, has terrible posture, and doesn’t use a napkin.  Her parents are trying to get her to make less of a mess and her father asks what she would do if she was eating with the queen.  Just then, a knock comes on the door and a royal messenger is there to invite Maya to dine with the queen that night.  Maya arrives via plane to the castle where the queen greets her and she is taken to the dining hall.  There are many people in fancy clothes there and the food is fancy too.  Maya requests (very politely) pasta with ketchup, but then can’t figure out what fork to use.  The gentleman next to her, brushes off her questions and tells her to eat the way she usually does.  Uh oh!

This is not the graphic novel for parents to pick up to teach their children manners, thanks to a big twist at the end of the book.  Children on the other hand will adore this book that turns manners on their head and have the young protagonist victoriously messy in the end.  Modan plays the rules of a royal dinner up with great effect.  There are moments in the middle of the book that you are sure it is headed in a completely different direction.  It makes for a wild ride of a book that is great fun.

The illustrations have a great vintage quality to them, something that plays well with the subject matter and makes the ending that much more of a surprise.  I particularly enjoy Maya’s outfit with her hoodie and mismatched socks.  The socks become all the more noticeable as she greets the queen. 

A droll look at manners, this is a graphic novel perfect for even the messiest of children.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Toon Books.