Naughty Mabel Sees It All

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Naughty Mabel Sees It All Book Poster Image
Diva dog needs glasses in story heavy on adult humor.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Vocabulary defined in text: paleontologist, aviatrix, ophthalmologist. Effects of nearsightedness and how that might be experienced. What an eye chart looks like.

Positive Messages

If you're having trouble with your vision, you can get glasses. Parents and other adults will take care of your health if you need glasses or other help.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mabel the dog is ebullient and doesn't get depressed or sidelined by obstacles. Adults are tolerant of her missteps when they realize she needs glasses.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Naughty Mabel Sees It All is a sequel by the same team (Nathan Lane, Devlin Elliott, Dan Krall) that introduced the pampered pup in Naughty Mabel. Both books are narrated by diva dog Mabel, whose theatrically dramatic voice is a ringer for Nathan Lane's, though this second story's harder to follow and veers even more toward adult humor. Though parents can read this book to young kids needing glasses, Mabel herself is fitted with contacts, not common for the picture book crowd, and the adult humor distracts from the kid fun. Also, beware: Mabel implies her parents may not believe in the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny, which could plant doubts in young minds.

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What's the story?

NAUGHTY MABEL SEES IT ALL is the story of a pampered pup who develops nearsightedness and double vision. In her tony Hamptons mansion she mistakenly eats a dish of potpourri, thinking it's her kibble, and while on a sleepover with her feline BFFs next door she attacks and destroys the blurry furniture and a dinosaur skeleton, since they appear to her to be looming monsters. Her human parents realize she needs glasses and take her to the ophthalmologist, where she's fitted with glasses, but gets contact lenses because "My parents decided contacts would be more practical for an active girl like me." At last Mabel can see enough to continue to wreak havoc, though now her targets are crystal clear.

Is it any good?

This book about a pampered pup who lives the Hamptons high life but discovers she needs glasses is blurry on the difference between a kid-friendly book and one with overly sophisticated adult humor. To satisfy the juvenile humor, Naughty Mabel Sees It All includes two fart jokes, but it's also filled with adult references that will sail high over kids' heads, including mentions of Martha Stewart, Bette Davis, and a "second date." Some story threads remain stubbornly unclear -- does Mabel feel queasy because she ate potpourri or because she's having vision problems? And if it's simple nearsightedness (myopia), why does she see double? Amblyopia (lazy eye) would explain multiple images, but probably wouldn't be corrected with glasses alone.

Dan Krall's zippy illustrations evidence his savvy know-how as a seasoned animator, and the art often clarifies the text. On one fun page the images on an eye chart morph from hieroglyph monsters to the standard letters of an E chart when Mabel dons corrective lenses. Mabel, a larger-than-life diva, is most fun when her experiences and references are relatable for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about vision problems in Naughty Mabel Sees It All. Do things ever look blurry to you? Do you ever see double images?

  • Do your parents get angry with you if you break things in the house? What if you have a reasonable explanation?

  • The story starts before the title page with Mabel talking to us directly. Why do you think the authors use Mabel's voice to tell the story? Do you think it would be as funny if they didn't?

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