Rot on, Ralph! (Early reader. 6-8)

ROTTEN RALPH'S ROTTEN FAMILY

From the Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers series

Just how did Rotten Ralph get so rotten?

Poor, beleaguered Sarah is at her wits’ end with her beloved Rotten Ralph when she cannot find a catsitter willing to care for him. Ralph, chagrined and not a little defensive, takes a trip down Memory Lane via a photo album documenting his time as a kitten with his feline family. Convinced that he sees no evidence of rottenness there (though readers may think otherwise if they examine Rubel’s illustrations), he heads back to the family farm to discover how he ended up so rotten. Once there, hilarity ensues as his family (with the exception of his mother) reveals that they weren’t hapless victims in his photographed hijinks. “Did you find out why you are so rotten?” Ralph’s mother asks him before he gratefully heads home to Sarah. “Yes,” he responds. “Because everyone was so rotten to me.” Poor Ralph returns to Sarah a reformed cat and proceeds to clean his room, tidy the house and prepare her a fancy breakfast in bed. However, fans of Ralph’s rotten ways needn’t be concerned about this apparent transformation, as a closing line asserts that he’s grateful not for some internal change, but for the knowledge that Sarah loves him enough that he can do whatever he wants.

Rot on, Ralph! (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-36353-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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