I Always, ALWAYS Get My Way

Written by Thad Krasnesky
Illustrated by David Parkins

When Emmy accidentally spills juice on her dad’s pants, she takes refuge behind Mom’s knee. Expecting a reprimand, Emmy is surprised when Mom tells Dad, “Now, sweetheart, you should let it be. After all…she’s only three.” What an amazing discovery! She’s too young to be punished!

For the next few days, whenever one of Emmy’s creative projects ends in a wreck, she wangles her way out of trouble by proclaiming “I’m only three” and pulling a handy weapon from her arsenal of manipulative maneuvers. With a carefully aimed pout, a shift of blame, or an all-out tantrum, this girl sure knows how to always, ALWAYS get her way.

But even the most understanding families have their limit, and in this laugh-out-loud story, it turns out that the limit looks a lot like an iguana in a bikini.

Take a walk on the wild side with an endearingly self-absorbed little scamp who gets caught up in what she’s doing without foreseeing the consequences.

rules, consequences, siblings, birth order, fairness, humor, excuses, mischief, family, blame, youngest, spoiled child, parenting, tantrum, time out, responsibility, fairness, respect, i always always get my wayrules, consequences, siblings, birth order, fairness, humor, excuses, mischief, family, blame, youngest, spoiled child, parenting, tantrum, time out, responsibility, fairness, respect, i always always get my way


  • Florida Reading Association Children’s Book Award Honor Book
  • NSW Premier Reading Challenge Book in Australia


    From Kirkus Reviews 
    While little Emmy appears sweet, her looks are deceiving. She superglues her sister’s skateboard to her dollhouse, claims her family’s possessions as pirate loot and steals her brother’s lizard for a bikini-clad bath-time swim. Emmy masterminds a (practically) foolproof plan to avoid trouble through tantrums and sulking. Her mother initially dismisses her poor choices -“after all . . . She’s only three” – though Emmy’s manipulation eventually runs its course. “I sadly closed my bedroom door. / I may be here until I’m four.” Parkins’s pen-and-ink cartoons utilize disproportionate facial features for comical effect. Watercolors provide dashes of varied colors against bright white backgrounds. Emmy is physically charming: Her rosy cheeks, disheveled hair and bare feet convey a youthful exuberance. Her animated expressions perfectly capture her scheming antics. Wearing solid oversized shirts, striped leggings and matching ribbons, she pouts her way into her family’s hearts. Although the verse doesn’t have the suppleness of [Shel] Silverstein, it does partake of his subversiveness. Overall, the result is a youngster more exasperating than endearing, one that many an older sibling will recognize with grim delight.” 

    From Publishers Weekly 
    At first, three-year-old Emmy gets away with peccadilloes like spilling orange juice on her dad’s trousers and using her older sister’s art materials (“Mom told her she should share with me./ After all… I’m only three”), pinning the blame on her siblings. But when her shenanigans spiral out of control (an early morning ice cream feast, setting loose her brother’s pet lizard, causing the bathtub to overflow), her family wises up. “Mom pointed to the stairs and said,/ ‘That’s it, young lady!/ GO TO BED!’ ” British illustrator Parkins (Dick King-Smith’s Sophie books) works in cartoon-style ink and wash, using vignettes to focus on Emmy’s yowls of indignation and insouciant smiles and having fun with Emmy’s more elaborate misdeeds. Newcomer Krasnesky writes tightly disciplined verse that never flags, sprinkled with parenthetical asides and modern phrases (“ ‘That’s SO not true, Mom,’ Suzie said”). Mischievous Emmy is a little too manipulative and self-serving to sympathize with completely—but that doesn’t make her any less authentic a character. This is a fast-moving crowd-pleaser made for reading aloud.” 

    From School Library Journal 
    Three-year-old Emmy wreaks havoc on her entire household. From spilling orange juice on Daddy at breakfast, to adorning her brother’s pet iguana in a bathing suit and letting the bathtub overflow, she’s got curiosity and mayhem covered. Krasnesky tells the story with flowing rhyme that accommodates the humor of the plot and heightens Parkins’s comical cartoon illustrations. “I tiptoed into Tommy’s room/and found a way to use the broom/to get the lizard off the shelf,/entirely all by myself.” As the star of this story gets into different sticky situations, she continually responds with the adage that “I’m only three,” so not much should be expected of her. While her mother seems to respond to the little devil’s helpless plea, it isn’t long before things snowball and Emmy finds herself in a serious time-out. 

    From Horn Book
    Bouncy rhymed text and humorous pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations follow little Emmy’s path of destruction. Mom, a first-class dupe, always comes to her rescue (“She told him to be nice to me. / After all…I’m only three”), but the mishaps pile up. …older siblings will be satisfied by the tale’s ending. 

    From Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine 
    Emmy gets away with everything—she’s only 3, after all—until her parents reach the limit of their patience, and Emmy must face a new concept: consequence. See the feature here.

    From Children’s Literature
    Emmy, a mischievous youngster, admits to taking advantage of the fact that “she’s only three” to “always, always get my way.” Spilling juice on her dad is an accident, but soon she realizes that she can use that excuse to blame her brother, use her sister’s “stuff,” even get covered with dirt while burying “loot” taken from all the family. But Emmy finally goes too far. Sent to bed, she sadly contemplates being there “until I’m four.”  Parkins previews with humor on the jacket eight versions of Emmy’s effective postures and facial expressions, as her family contemplates with dismay. His pen-and-black ink line drawings on white pages focus on Emmy while supplying enough cartoony details of her audacious activities. Watercolors add a sense of reality. While making readers and listeners laugh, Emmy will remind many of their exasperating younger siblings. Do we hug her or what?–Ken and Sylvia Marantz 

    From Bookfoolery and Babble
    Definitely recommended. Wonderful, goofy-expressive illustrations, comfortable read-aloud rhyming and a solid theme make I Always, Always Get My Way a winner….

    From The Florida Reading Journal
     …a playful, expressive, dramatic, and very loveable protagonist. …will undoubtedly leave many readers looking forward to Emmy’s future adventures. –Thomas Crisp, University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. Volume 48, No.1, Winter 2012 (pp. 37-41) “Book Reviews: Literature: Notable Books for Children and Young Adults”

    From HealthyBooks.com 
    In this laugh-out-loud-funny book, the little girl uses all her wiles to get herself out of trouble until the final episode when even her usual plea that works with mum comes unstuck: ‘I sweetly answered, ”Don’t blame me. Did you forget? I’m only three.” It’s a little hard to believe that this little problem-maker is only three, but the premise is a great one – if a child is allowed to get by with murder, she will continue to cause mayhem. In super rhyming couplets and the kind of expressive illustrations that add miles to the text, we see this three-year-old catastrophe on legs get by with dumping orange juice down her dad’s new trousers, blaming her brother for an accident she caused herself, and using her sister’s things without asking. But what disasters! Dad twigs that all is not well when she digs a hole while playing pirates and tries to bury all the family silver. And even mum becomes suspicious when the living room is littered with broken biscuits and mess from an early morning breakfast. And then there is the grandaddy of all messes that finally brings the whole family together in knowing who is to blame. The little girl is sent to bed: ‘I sadly closed my bedroom door. I may be here until I’m four.’ The huge humour makes the point extremely well without preaching. The book should be in every young ‘madam’s’ library! 

    From Pages, Inc. 
    I Always, Always Get My Way… is hilarious.  Three-year-old Emmy gets into all kinds of sticky situations, but she wiggles and pouts her way out, because, after all––she’s only three.  Big brother and sister get in trouble for Emmy’s wild behavior, and their patience begins to wear thin.  When Steve, the Iguana mysteriously escapes his cage and the over-flowing bathtub, Emmy is finally sent to her room.  Even her sweetest plea to mom and dad, “Don’t blame me. Did you forget? I’m only three!” can’t save her this time! This book will be a favorite for years to come.  The illustrations are amazing and children (and adults) will be eager to turn page after page. — Edna Wallace, Editor 

    From The Lincoln Daily News 
    …Thad Krasnesky and David Parks have teamed up to present us with a hilarious and too often true depiction of life with a spoiled 3-year-old child. Emmy, with her large eyes, bare feet, crooked ponytail and oversized T-shirt, is the epitome of disaster waiting to happen…. David Parks has captured all aspects of an adorable and frustrating 3-year-old. Emmy is pictured from innocent, doe-eyed toddler to screaming, red-cheeked tyrant. He gives each spread an element of bright-colored detail that allows the reader to picture the havoc wrought by the toddler, while using white space to draw the attention to the important aspects of the scene. Even the terror on the lizard’s face when confronted by a broom-wielding Emmy is both laughable and endearing! No matter what your age, if you have children or have any experience with the little tots, you will laugh out loud at Emmy’s antics, sympathize with her family and smile at her inevitable realization that the world does not revolve around her whims. This is a story not to be missed. — Review by Louella Moreland, Lincoln Public Library.

    From Foreword Magazine
    Krasnesky is an Army major, veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq, and an instructor at West Point. He’s also a splendidly accomplished children’s book author as evidenced by this rollicking, rhyming, and incisive look into family dynamics when the roost is ruled by a three-year-old. Yes, Emmy gets the best of brother, sister, mother, father, and even the family iguana by playing the just-a-little-girl card, but her fortunes turn in the end. Parkins captures it all in superb cartoon-like illustrations. 

    From PBS Parents Booklights 
    The terrible two’s might bring tantrums and frustration, but the tricky three’s are all about testing limits. One of the hardest things in approaching this age is figuring out when the child isn’t old enough to understand something and when they do know better. This book is a wonderful, learning tribute to that concept handled in a light way. 

    From The Sacramento Book Review: 
    Emmy is a bratty three-year-old if there ever was one, yet a very smart one as well. She plays up the fact that she’s cute and only three. Quite frankly, she is a terror around the house. She takes her siblings’ things and makes huge messes. Her mom is usually right there to protect her. On a Sunday morning Emmy decides to entertain herself as usual and creates a disaster around the entire house. She figures she’ll get away with it since she usually does, but this time is different. Emmy, for the first time in the book, receives a punishment of getting sent to bed. “I sweetly answered, “Don’t blame me. Did you forget? I’m only three!” I Always, Always Get My Way will resonate with parents everywhere. Children go through phases, such as the terrible twos, and it is hard to discipline small, adorable children when they look up at you with those innocent eyes. In most cases, they have outwitted you and know exactly what your kryptonite is. Parents will chuckle, and children will realize there are consequences for their actions. Iraq War veteran and author Thad Krasnesky uses a rhyming style that makes it fun to read and fun to listen to, making it a perfect bedtime story. Well-established illustrator David Parkins does a fantastic job of capturing the essence of a mischievous three-year-old.” 

    From Kids’ Book Blog 
    …a cute book about being spoiled. It is written in rhyme, and is sure to make you giggle. The great pictures depict all the trouble Emmy gets into, as well as her sweet faces, and the fits she throws to get out of trouble! 

    From Large Print Reviews 
    Three-year-olds have a knack for getting what they want. They are old enough to have figured out how to manipulate their parents, but still young enough that they are easily forgiven for their mistakes. Three-year-old Emmy is a perfect example. When she does something wrong, she tends to get away with it because she is ‘only three’. However, three or not, there’s a limit to how much mischief one child can get into before she gets into real trouble! I Always, Always Get My Way is a must read for children and adults. It is a cautionary tale for adults, reminding them that it can be a major mistake to let youngsters get away with ‘things’ because they are only three. While children will revel in Emmy’s antics as they imagine what they might be able to get away with, if mom or dad would be so kind as to make excuses for them simply because of their age. This charming, rhymed story was written by Thad Krasnesky, and is accompanied by hilarious illustrations by David Parkins. At one point Steve, an iguana that belongs to Emmy’s brother falls into Emmy’s hands and before the lizard knows what happens, he finds himself dressed in a bikini bathing suit. The look of horror in the lizard eye is fantastically rendered and you really feel for Steve’s plight! This is one of those children’s book that is a blast to read, and one which children of all ages will connect with. As well, the book is printed in at least a 18-point font, making it easy on the eyes – especially when your kids beg you to read the book over and over again. In addition, this font size makes this a large print book, which is a boon to those of us who require or desire large print books. As well, this larger print size makes this book ideal for new readers who will find that the large text size makes it easier for them to decode the text. After reading I Always, Always Get My Way, be sure to check out That Cat Can’t Stay. It is another outstanding children’s book by Thad Krasnesky and includes exuberant illustrations by David Parkins. –Reviewed by Anna Dogole 

    From For Immediate Release Reviews
    This story is about a little girl named Emmy, who happens to be a very precocious three year old. She is also a smart little girl who immediately picks up on the idea that she can get away with all sorts of trouble because … she is only three. The initial incident truly is an accident when Emmy innocently spills her orange juice on the breakfast table. Of course, the juice runs straight to her Dad’s pants, who has a few choice words about his daughter’s carelessness. Emmy’s mom comes to her rescue when she utters the magic words “Now, sweetheart, you should let it be. After all … she’s only three.” Voila. Emmy learns the power of the perfect excuse. Now that Emmy has caught on, there is no end in sight to her mischief making. Since three year olds are not held responsible for their own actions, little Emmy can cause all sorts of mischief and mayhem with no consequences. Oh, boy. She takes her older sister’s things without permission, digs a gigantic hole in the backyard, muddies up her mum’s nice chair and eats ice cream concoctions for breakfast. All the trouble Emmy creates comes crashing down about her shoulders when she tries to use her “little girl” excuse one too many times. Suddenly her family realizes that Emmy is old enough to know better and to be held accountable for her actions when she behaves inappropriately. No more free passes! What a perfect book about a very important lesson that mommies and daddies, er, young children need to learn. Picking up this book is a surefire way to teach this particular lesson in a painless way. You can enjoy the rhyming text paired with funny, imaginative illustrations and feel good about the message imparted! 

    From Katie’s Literature Lounge
    Little Emmy always gets her way – after all… she’s only three! However, this family finally has the opportunity to see the real suspect at work and decides to teach her a lesson of her own (gently, of course). Older siblings and parents will totally connect with little Emmy’s behavior and the feelings that coincide with her always having her own way about things. However, hopefully, they’ll be learning the all too important message that this book portrays – don’t give in to to your little ones (or big ones for that matter) and let them get away with things because of that oh-so-cute face… they’ll quickly learn to milk you for all you’re worth! 

    From Barbara Gruener, School Counselor, Friendswood, TX 
    Choices have consequences, that’s plain to see; but it’s not always obvious . . . when you are three! Meet Emmy, a three-year old tornado who challenges her family by pushing on and testing their boundaries for her. Watch as she storms through the house, kicks up some dust, and then sits back to see how it settles. Will they be able to outlast her as she whirls in and turns their world upside down? Initially, both her sister and brother get in trouble because of Mom’s willingness to chalk it up to her age – perhaps you remember the terrible threes? But that excuse wears thin and, in the end, despite Emmy’s amazing attempt to divide and conquer, both parents are able to see that, regardless of her age, this little twister needs to be held accountable for her actions. With a little bit of luck, the reflective time-out in her room will be just what she needs to teach the somewhat-spoiled sister that she does NOT always get her way. David Parkins’ eye-catching illustrations are precious as he brings to life author Thad Krasnesky’s little heroine and her creative commotion. This whimsical tale is sure to entertain and connect with anyone who’s ever had a sneaky sibling. Once the laughter has subsided, it might also spark an interesting discussion about choices and consequences. 

    From MyShelf.com 
    The youngest of three children, Emmy has learned to take advantage of her status as “only three.” When Mom defends her after an accidental orange juice catastrophe, Emmy discovers that Mom will take her side even when she’s increasingly out-of-line. But when she turns into a full-tilt terror, will she really always get her way? Emmy’s creative antics, coupled with David Parkins’ whimsical illustrations, go a long way towards helping the reader like Emmy, even when she’s being totally outrageous. The look on the face of the poor iguana who takes part in one of Emmy’s schemes—against his will and wearing a bikini—is completely priceless. It looks like the poor lizard is going to need years of counseling. It’s a lively story of a little girl running rudely into the lesson of personal responsibility. The illustrations are so engaging that my ten-year-old grabbed the book from my desk for a look, even though she’s well into the age of horror at being seen with a “baby book.” This book should grab a lot of readers with its look, then hold onto them through the giggles in the story.” 

    From Christine Hohlbaum, author of S.A.H.M.
    I Am How to Always, Always Get Your Way: It has been five years since a three-year-old ran our house. My son, now eight, prefers to spank a soccer ball against the wall or ride his bike with friends. On some days I miss his younger self, whose life wasn’t complicated by homework assignments and schoolhouse worries. But when the folks at Flashlight Press sent me I Always, Always Get My Way about three-year-old Emmy whose parents make excuses for her mischief until she finally dresses the family pet lizard in a bikini, I remembered the other part of having a three-year-old that makes my life now look tidy and less stressful. Emmy, like any three-year-old, has an ability to look sweet and innocent and completely incapable of doing harm. While her siblingsare on to her shenanigans from the start, her clueless parents are blind to her ways until she takes it too far. With a smart, Seuss like cadence, the rhyming structure is pleasant to read. Author Thad Krasnesky, a  US Army major, employs such gentle truth to the subject that I was rather surprised to learn he is an instructor at West Point. The illustrations by David Parkins, are adorable and compelling, especially the scene in which Emmy is caught eating ice cream in the early morning in front of the TV. Whether you currently have a preschooler or not, the book is a fun read the whole family will enjoy!” 

    From A Patchwork of Books
    …a laugh-out-loud story, screaming to be read to your kids! 

    From The Midwest Book Review 
    Thad Krasnesky is a master storyteller. Through the expert illustrations of David Parkins, I Always Always Get My Way is a sheer delight to read and experience. With its rhyming storyline, a cast of loveable characters, this book will quickly become one of your child’s all-time favorites. Very highly recommended. 

    From ChildrensBooksGuide.com 
    Kids will love to see Emmy get away with so many misdeeds. …They will be left wondering if her behavior will ever catch up with her. Curiosity will keep them enthusiastically reading to find out Emmy’s fate…. Thad Kranesky, uses delightful rhyming text to bring humor to the story that leaves the readers laughing at Emmy’s shenanigans…. David Parkins masterfully conveys Emmy’s many emotions through his drawings…. Children, parents and caregivers will enjoy sharing this book together. 

    About the Creators

    Thad, krasnesky, rules, consequences, siblings, birth order, fairness, humor, excuses, mischief, family, blame, youngest, spoiled child, parenting, tantrum, time out, responsibility, fairness, respect, i always always get my way

    Thad Krasnesky is the author of I Always, ALWAYS Get My Way, That Cat Can’t Stay, and Pterodactyl Show and Tell. Thad is a writer of children’s stories trapped in the body of an Army major. He served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was an instructor at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. He enjoys volunteering with children and running marathons, and lives in Lansing, Kansas, with his wife and two daughters.


    david, parkins, rules, consequences, siblings, birth order, fairness, humor, excuses, mischief, family, blame, youngest, spoiled child, parenting, tantrum, time out, responsibility, fairness, respect, i always always get my way

    David Parkins is the illustrator of I Always, ALWAYS Get My Way and That Cat Can’t Stay, written by Thad Krasnesky. David has been an illustrator since he left art college in 1978. He spent several years at the beginning of his career producing textbook illustrations for educational publishers. He also worked for the publishers of the British children’s comic book, The Beano, an institution in the UK. Until recently, David drew their main character, Dennis the Menace (not to be confused with the American character of the same name, although they are almost exact contemporaries). In addition, David has done political cartoons and editorial illustrations for The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, Nature, and the Times Educational Supplement. In his nearly 40-year career, David has illustrated scores of books, poetry anthologies, and covers. David moved from Lincoln, England, to Lansdowne in Ontario, Canada, where he lives with his wife and daughter, and their cats. 
    You can find out more about David and his work on his website

    Book Details

    ISBN: HC 9780979974649  ePDF 9781936261710  ePUB 9781936261727  KF8 9781936261734  Audiobook 9781947277946 Read-along Audio 9781947277878
    Print Length:
    32 Full Color Pages
    Publication Date:
    September 2009
    Age Group:
    Lexile Measure:
    Word Count:
    Foreign Rights:
    Chinese, German, and Korean

    rules, consequences, siblings, birth order, fairness, humor, excuses, mischief, family, blame, youngest, spoiled child, parenting, tantrum, time out, responsibility, fairness, respect, i always always get my way, chinese, german, koreanrules, consequences, siblings, birth order, fairness, humor, excuses, mischief, family, blame, youngest, spoiled child, parenting, tantrum, time out, responsibility, fairness, respect, i always always get my way, german

    Activity Guides & More

    THEMES: rules & consequences, siblings, birth order, fairness, humor

    Leveling Information

    Lexile Measurements provided by Metametrics. Guided Reading Levels provided by Marla Conn using Fountas and Pinnel Guided Reading Text Characteristics.

    Lexile Display: AD610L

    Word Count: 960

    MSL: 9.796

    MLF: 3.683

    Decoding Display: Medium

    Semantic Display: High

    Syntactic Display: Very High

    Structure Display: Very High 

    Guided Reading Level: L

    Grade Level Equivalent: 2

    Interest Level by Grade: Pre-K-4

    Educational Description: Picture book, realistic fiction

    Story Elements: setting, plot and character development, Point of view, three-year-old Emmy, lyrical text, rhythm and rhyme, humorous tone, figurative language: simile, illustrations enhance meaning and tone

    Comprehension Strategies: identify cause and effect relationships, changes from beginning to end of the story, different points of view, predict outcomes, make text-to-self connections

    Themes: family, siblings, mischief, consequences