November 12 – It’s Gratitude Month


About the Holiday

National Gratitude Month was established to encourage people to embrace gratitude every day. When we focus on the good influences in our lives, we’re happier, healthier and less stressed. While during November we celebrate Thanksgiving and the season ushers in holidays of joy and giving, our thoughts turn to getting together with others to show how grateful we are for them. Today’s book demonstrates how showing good manners can go a long way in proving our gratitude too! 

Terrific Table Manners: A Modern Manners Primer

Written by Michelle Markel | Illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard


The holidays are coming with invitations to parties and get-togethers, dinners at grandma and grandpa’s, and festive drop-ins at friends’ and neighbors’ homes. And then there are just the family mealtimes that might benefit from a little more polish. What’s a grown-up to do with their young charges? To the rescue comes Terrific Table Manners, a terrific guide that puts a light touch on the finer points of conduct.


Image copyright Merrilee Lilliard, 2021, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2021. Courtesy of Cameron Kids.

The chaperone on this journey to refinement is Mr. Faris, a dapper gent who, he says, “went to manners school in Paris.” With his pencil mustache, fitted waistcoat, and striking ascot, Mr. Faris is the perfect teacher through this school of manners and etiquette—and he does it in rhyme! His first lesson introduces the RSVP—a must for any respectful invitee.  Mr. Faris even provides examples of a “Do it like this” acceptance: “Thank you for inviting me to dinner. I will be coming! Sincerely, Kevin; and decline: “Thank you for inviting me to dinner. I’m busy and won’t be able to make it. Sincerely, Kevin; and a “Not like this” decline: “I’m NOT going to your fancy dinner party! I’d rather eat worms! Kevin.”

So you’ve accepted the invitation. Now what? First thing, as you gaze at the beautifully set table, remember: “The china gleams, the silver shines. / Your manners must be just as fine.” What kind of manners? Sitting up straight, putting the napkin on your lap, and keeping elbows off the table. Easy peasy! Now, the dinner bell has rung and it’s time to sit.


Image copyright Merrilee Lilliard, 2021, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2021. Courtesy of Cameron Kids.

If you find yourself next to someone you don’t know, can you just keep your head down and eat, eat, eat? Not at all, “you must converse.” About what? Mr. Faris presents some tips on topics that are and are not good dinnertime conversation starters. And here’s “one last rule for you to follow. / Before you speak, please chew and swallow. // Your food won’t spray into the air. / The guests will think you’re debonair.”

At this fancy dinner party, there are a lot of utensils and dishes. And I mean, a lot! What are they all for? Mr. Faris clues you in then demonstrated the correct way to eat soup. After the soup, comes the main course. No matter how hungry you might be, Mr. Faris advises: “Don’t hold utensils with your fists! / Only cavemen eat like this!” Then as the platter’s passed around, polite kids put food on their plate—even if they don’t really like it. You’ll learn how to cut the meat and discretely get rid of gristle and tough parts too.


Image copyright Merrilee Lilliard, 2021, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2021. Courtesy of Cameron Kids.

Next come the vegetables—artichokes, asparagus, and corn on the cob. Each on requires a different dining job. No gravy lakes or shooting peas, and “if you spill your drink, don’t make a fuss.” At last dessert is being served. When it’s time to cut the cake, should you take a big, big slice? Mr. Faris says, “That isn’t nice.” And after “afters” if you’re getting bored, “you mustn’t make a big commotion. / No mixing drinks, no magic potions. // Please no shouting, hush that singing.” And make sure your cell phone isn’t ringing.

While Mr. Faris’s class may end in a chaotic dismissal, your kids will learn the fine art of being a courteous, gracious, and very welcome guest with this humorous primer that finishes up with briefly expanded talk and tips on the subjects presented in the text, from why manners matter to the verbal thank-you or thank-you note to the host or hostess.


Image copyright Merrilee Lilliard, 2021, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2021. Courtesy of Cameron Kids.

In her delightfully accessible handbook to manners, Michelle Markel will tickle kids’ ribs while teaching them what it means to be a polite guest, restaurant-visitor, or member at the family table. Through short chapters she follows a group of children who are practicing their manners under the watchful eye and advice of Mr. Faris and a brave hostess, Prudence, and demonstrates the dos—and don’ts—that elicit smiles—and frowns. Her comical conversational verses will make kids laugh—and remember these musts for polite society.

Accompanying Markel’s guidelines are Marrilee Liddiard’s elegant line drawings of a fine Parisian home set for dinner and the eight manners-challenged kids at their first class. As the food flies, the soup splashes, and the conversation veers into dangerous territory, readers can see just how gauche rambunctiousness can be.

A book that makes learning the finer points of socializing fun, Terrific Table Manners: A Modern Manners Primer is a highly recommended addition to family, school, and public library collections.

Ages 5 – 10

Cameron Kids, 2021 | ISBN 978-1951836238

Discover more about Michelle Markel and her books on her website.

To learn more about Merrilee Liddiard, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Gratitude Month Activity


Alphabet I Spy Gratitude Game


Things to be thankful for are all around you! What do you see? Find an entire alphabet of favorite things with this printable Alphabet I Spy Gratitude Game Page!


You can find Terrific Table Manners: A Modern Manners Primer at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review