Perfect Picture Book Friday-The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups

Susanna Leonard Hill features Perfect Picture Book Friday on her blog. This is a wonderful resource if you are wondering what books to give as gifts, needing material for a lesson, and mainly just perfect for those who love to read picture books. Here is a list of books by category. This is very handy for finding books for lessons in the classroom, or for finding books on a particular topic to discuss with your children at home. Each book listed has a link to a review and information about that book. There is also an alphabetical list if you scroll down past the category list.

The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups

Written and Illustrated by David Wisniewski

HarperCollins 1998

Ages 5 and up

Themes: Humor, Rules

Synopsis: (Elizabeth MacKinney) In The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups and The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups: The Second File, David Wisniewski reveals the real reasons behind the good behavior you were carefully schooled in. Obtained at great personal risk, he tells the real reasons why you shouldn’t play with your food (food doesn’t know when to quit when it gets riled up, of course) and why you shouldn’t bite your fingernails (’cause the pieces grow back into rogue fingers who sneak up in gangs and ring your doorbell before running away).

Lines from the book: “Grown-Up Rule #62: Don’t jump on your bed. OFFICIAL REASONS: You’ll break it. You might get hurt. THE TRUTH: Yes, it’s possible to break your bed if you jump on it. and it’s possible you might get hurt if you fall off. But you’ll definitely get hurt (page turn) if you wake up the mattress! You see, mattresses aren’t just big life less rectangles crammed with stuffing. They are active woolly creatures raised on farms in Scotland.” And the fun continues 🙂

Today I am reviewing a picture book I have owned for years! I had forgotten how much I like it. It is written by David Wisniewski. He died at age 49 in his sleep. The world lost a true talent way too early. I, also, own The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups-The Second File.

Resources: Activities for having children write their own grown-up rules and then a spoof on the rule. Writing Imaginary Rules: Website 1  Website 2  Website 3

Prompt Sheet with rules written by 3 other students and this lesson to go with the Prompt Sheet. This lesson plan is very detailed and has examples.

This website is for oral presentations.

Why I Like This Book: David Wisniewski really knows how to tickle the funny bone. He takes the subject of “Rules”, which children never want to talk about, and he makes it into a book that they will definitely want to talk about. He presents the “real” rules as top secret rules that adults have filed away in secret files to make sure kids don’t get their hands on them.  He adds the spy/mystery element by having the kid sneak into facilities that house the secret files. How appealing is that? Spies, mystery, and humor all rolled together. The illustrations are cut paper with details that deliver their part of the story. He catches expressions perfectly. Here is an example of the kid/spy sneaking in to get a file.

Cozy Comfort Mattress Company
Lorgnette, Oregon
DATE  & TIME: January 17, 1998
4:30 A.M.
LOG: Disguised as bedbug, enter
loading dock. Find GROWN-UP
RULE #62  in stuffing bin. Get
sprayed by janitor. Play dead.
Swept up in dustpan. Exit in
Isn’t that fun? Also, this is a great book to use in the classroom. I included several websites for writing activities. Students will have fun with this while having to use their imaginations and be creative. Also, it’s an excellent chance to talk about rules-at school and at home-with the element of silliness mixed in.

21 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday-The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups

  1. This book is too funny! Sadly, I think it might scare my older one, who is pretty sensitive. (He was scared by Bobby Bramble at first). However, my little one might find it hilarious in another year.


  2. Oh Penny, this is also an absolute favorite. I also own a personal copy which I bought around five or six years back! I looooved this book. I recalled using it in a few bibliotherapy sessions with gifted kids. I am also a huge fan of David Wisnewski – didn’t know about the circumstances of his death, tragic indeed. Thank you for sharing this and getting me to take a trip down memory lane.


    1. It’s an older book as far as picture books go. It’s, also, geared toward a little older age group than a lot. I imagine a typical third grader would get all the humor.


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