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Please Mr Panda 

Steve Antony
Hodder Children’s Books
Age 0-3

Mr Panda has some doughnuts to share and offers them to a series of ungrateful and greedy animals. Eventually a lemur sets herself above the rest by being much more polite and is duly rewarded. A simple story about sharing and politeness.

We asked Steve Antony about his inspiration for the book and how it became a series
The first story, Please, Mr. Panda, came to me in a most peculiar way. One lazy Sunday afternoon I was doodling pandas in bed when I heard a voice inside my head. “Would you like a doughnut?” asked the voice. I imagined this to be the voice of the deadpan Mr. Panda who was staring right at me from my sketchbook. “Give me the pink one,” replied a tiny, squeaky voice, which I imagined to be that of a cute little penguin. “No, you cannot have a doughnut. I have changed my mind,” huffed Mr. Panda. This made me chuckle. But why did Mr. Panda change his mind? I continued to imagine him interacting with other animals in a similar fashion. Then it dawned on me: none of the animals said please! That’s when I knew I had a good story. Mr. Panda wanted to teach me, and the world, a lesson or two in manners.

I never imagined in a million years that Mr. Panda would star in his very own series of books!  I wrote Please, Mr. Panda a year after being made redundant from a call centre. In fact, if I hadn’t been made redundant the Please, Mr. Panda probably wouldn’t exist. The book wasn’t even called Please, Mr. Panda to begin with. It was called Would You Like a Doughnut?

The response to the first Mr. Panda book took me by complete surprise, and I just knew Mr. Panda had more stories to tell. I also love adding more black and white animals to Mr. Panda’s expanding circle of friends. I pick only black and white animals for Mr. Panda’s world because I’m red-green colour-blind, and at the start of my career I steered clear of using too much colour. Now I’m more confident with using colour. For example, my illustrations for Tim Minchin’s When I Grow Up are super colourful.

I’ve actually just finished the 5th Mr. Panda picture book. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of Mr. Panda because he’s such a funny character to develop. He’s grumpy-looking yet really generous. He’s big and gruff yet wears pink frilly aprons. He isn’t perfect, yet he tries his best to teach manners in his own unique (and somewhat unorthodox) way. Plus, he has the best fans.

Every now and then I check the hashtag #PleaseMrPanda to see what people are posting on Instagram. One school painted a gigantic Mr. Panda in their class and took turns taking selfies next to it. Another transformed their class into Mr. Panda’s doughnut factory. I often get tagged in Mr. Panda related tweets, too.


Share the story

Watch the trailer

Read aloud
Before you start reading the story, talk about what you can see in the cover illustration. What do children think Mr Panda is holding?

Read the story aloud to your child, pausing if children would like to talk about the pictures.

Join in
When children know the story well they might like to join in when you read the story, perhaps being Mr Panda while you read the parts of the naughty animals who don’t say please. It doesn’t matter if their version is slightly different from the text in the book.

Tell the story
After hearing the story a few times, children will get to know it well. Encourage them tell it to you in their own words, with some words or phrases from the story, using the pictures to help them.

Talk about the story

  • Can children spot the lemur hiding on the end papers at the front of the book? What has happened to him in the picture on the end papers at the back of the book?

  • Talk about the colours of the different doughnuts

  • Why do children think Mr Panda didn’t give the other animals a doughnut?

  • Talk about all the animals in the book (penguin, skunk, ostrich, whale and lemur) children may notice they are all black and white

Watch the story

"Please Mr Panda by Steve Antony is a lovely little story which also helps toddlers and preschool children learn the importance of manners. The illustrations are lovely too. I have two girls who are two and five. My eldest understands and generally has good manners but the youngest is still learning. This book has been great for helping her. The book doesn't actually explain why only the animal that says please gets doughnuts but my 5 year old realised this and each time we read it we explain to our toddler why the rude animals don't get any doughnuts. I think it's starting to help her understand. We've read it a few times now and if you ask her after reading each animal’s reply if they are going to get any doughnuts, she knows if they will or won’t.

Inspired by the book we have done some of Lovemybooks’ activities together. The first activity we did was panda painting. I gave her a black piece of paper, a paint brush and a pot of white paint. She loves painting and as such loved this activity. We usually use colourful paints on white paper so this was a lovely change. I find simple art activities like this are perfect for young toddlers who enjoy the process of painting more than the end result. She was however very proud of her finished master piece and keen to show it her big sister and daddy after school and work.

The second activity we tried was making play dough doughnuts. Again she loves play dough so she really enjoyed this activity. I had to show her how to make doughnut shapes put she loved adding the red play dough to decorate them. Of course, being just 2, she was very good at destroying the doughnuts I'd just made for her too! All part of the fun for toddlers. It was a great learning opportunity to talk about colours and shapes. Claire'"

Things to make and do

Make playdough doughnuts
Use different coloured playdough to make a tray of doughnuts, talk about the actions you are doing to shape the dough and the different colours while you are making them together.

Act out the story
Children could use their tray of doughnuts to act out the story with you, or with their toys as the other animals.

If you have a stacking toy with rings children could act out the story using these as the doughnuts instead of playdough doughnuts.

Draw a picture
Children could draw a picture to say thank you (from the lemur) to Mr Panda.

Make a black and white picture
Give children a black piece of paper, white paint and a thick brush to experiment making blobs and marks, alternatively they could do this with a piece of white paper and black paint.

Find out more

Visit Steve Antony’s website

It includes facts about Please Mr Panda and a few downloadable activities based on the book.

Read more books by Steve Antony, titles include:

Thank you Mr Panda

Betty Goes Bananas

The Queen’s Hat

Monster in the Hood