Naughty Mabel

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Naughty Mabel Book Poster Image
Funny, antic story about pampered, misbehaving pup.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Simply meant to entertain.

Positive Messages

Parents can love their pups (and by extension, their kids) even when they misbehave.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Mabel isn't well-behaved, she's spirited and confident and always finds the fun in life. Her human parents are loving and forgiving.

Violence & Scariness
Language

There's a reference to Mabel the dog liking to "lick everything! Even myself … Do you mind, darlings? This is private."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Naughty Mabel, cowritten by actor Nathan Lane and Devlin Elliott and illustrated by Dan Krall, has Lane's comic stamp, and one can almost hear his voice in the narration. Mabel is a pup, owned by a couple with a lavish Hamptons mansion, and by Mabel's own admission, she's not naughty, she's "VERY NAUGHTY!" Life as a pampered pup is good, but the real fun comes when her owners throw a fancy party. When she's put to bed early, Mabel slips down the staircase in her pink party dress and proceeds to wreak havoc, grabbing pigs-in-blankets from the catering tray, leading her owners on a wet-and-wild chase through the pool, and clearing the party with a stomach-rumbling, toxic-smelling fart. There's a reference to the dog licking herself ("Do you mind, darlings? This is private") and an odd, old reference to the French not liking to bathe, but kids -- even buttoned-up, well-behaved kids -- can misbehave vicariously through all the silly naughtiness.

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What's the story?

NAUGHTY MABEL is about a pup who lives in a sprawling Hamptons mansion. Her human parents dote on her, and by Mabel's own admission, she's very naughty. She's pictured eating flowers, making off with the holiday turkey, and chewing up the newspaper she's fetched. Her high spirits come to a head when the humans throw a party and Mabel sneaks in. She makes off with a mouthful of catered hot dogs, and, in an antic spread, knocks over food, wait staff, and guests. Because of the hot dogs, Mabel has some serious gas, which clears the party. Still, her parents love her, and Mabel joins them in their bed, because they're "one big, happy family."

Is it any good?

Readers will find it hard not to love spirited, misbehaving pup Mabel, who asks, "What good is a party without naughty little girls?" By her own admission, Mabel is a free spirit, and she's not naughty, she's VERY naughty. She eats underwear, knocks over the Christmas tree, and paints on the expensive portrait hung in her humans' well-appointed Hamptons mansion. "I live to party!!!" she declares, before destroying the party they host.

It's cowritten by the ever-funny Nathan Lane and producer/writer Devlin Elliott, and Lane's comic voice bleeds through. The text is a bit long, and there are some overly sophisticated adult references (Mabel asks for the name of a good lawyer) and a tired slur against the French, but the real appeal for kids is taking pleasure watching someone else do all the naughty things they're forbidden to do themselves. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about pets and their points of view. Do you have a pet? Does it misbehave? Do pets understand human rules?

  • Why do her parents still love Mabel after she wreaks havoc on their party? Can you love someone even when you don't like his or her behavior?

  • Which parts of the story are the funniest to you? What's funny about seeing characters in stories misbehave?

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