196. “A Promise is a Promise” by Florence Parry Heide

George’s parents made sure George had everything he needed and wanted. But for a pet, which was apparently what George wanted more than anything.  Finally, the parents  reluctantly agreed on a friendly beast in the house, although had a hard time approving of any of George’s (questionable, I must add) choices. Oliver, the dog, was too big and jumped up on people, Philip, the mouse, made George’s mom jump (obviously) and Penelope, the shark, was too unusual. Eventually, the parents suggested a bird and promised to let George keep  it. The next day George brought home  Horatio, the parrot. A very eloquent one, with a good knowledge of swear words… The parents freaked out, but a promise is a promise, isn’t it?

I have to openly say, I am not sure if I should feel bad for the parents. After all they asked for it. Not only by agreeing on a pet but also by their parenting strategy: showing their love by stuffing their child with stuff? On the other hand, George was a mischievous little boy indeed. He knew how to manipulate his parents and he did it mercilessly.

You might remember Florence Parry Heide from  “Always Listen to Your Mother”?. THat was the other book I read and wrote about.    Judging by these two books, I just love  this writer. Her voice is so unique: a blend of pompous and pretentious, which is utterly hilarious and ultimately suitable for her characters: distant or vain parents, who like to sigh and say “oh, dear” to everything, and their troubled and kind of wicked children. I like the deep parenting messages she smuggles in the innocently amusing stories.

As far as the illustrations, I think that Tony Auth’s cartoonish pictures are a perfect visual for this script.

“A Promise is a Promise” is a must read for every parent who struggles with saying NO to their children.  And you should read it twice before you agree on your child having a pet.


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