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Whoopi says mind your manners

Whoopi Goldberg is coming to the rescue of all good-manners-impaired children - and adults - in the world.

"Parental overseeing has been on the wane. I want to go up to parents and say, 'Do you see that your child has no clue, that they're out of step?' " says Goldberg, whose Big Book of Manners is one of several new illustrated children's books that emphasize good behavior.

She says she purposely wrote a book for young children so the parents will have to read it and get a crash course on manners themselves.

The biggest cross-generational offense she sees: the finger in the nose. "Everyone seems to be doing it," she says.

That didn't happen in Goldberg's household when she was a child. "My mom, the community, taught me manners. Sometimes I had to remind myself, but it was the culture," she says.

When she's in public, she tries to be the picture of politeness. Even when she's at home, she tries to be on her best behavior, though occasionally a bit of crankiness comes through. If she does forget a "please" or "thank you," she goes back to the scene of the crime to right the wrong and apologize.

"People know my face. I'm relatively calm when they come up to me ... I want it to be a positive experience, but I do always want them to be respectful."

And that brings her back to Whoopi's Big Book of Manners, the first product in her multiple-book deal with Hyperion Books' Jump at the Sun imprint: "Respect is learned by rote. How adults comport themselves, kids will follow."

Goldberg gives credit to the adults out there who disagree with her liberal politics but are cordial or even complimentary when they meet face to face. "A lot of people don't like a lot of things I've done, but they seem to be respectful ... People seem to trust me. They know I'm thoughtful even if they don't agree with me."

Kids, though, who know Goldberg from Sesame Street and The Lion King, just look at her as if she's a bit strange, she says, laughing. "Parents know me as a celebrity, but I talk to kids like kids. I say, 'Let me come down there to talk to you - and it's not easy getting down there - but I look at them eye to eye, and they respond."