Instructive—delightfully so.

RATTY TATTLETALE

From the Infamous Ratsos series

A new life lesson for Ralphie and Louie Ratso, with an assist from their savvy single dad.

When a pair of bullies from the fifth grade start picking on mouse third grader Tiny, his classmate Ralphie the rat tells them to stop. But when Kurt and Sid get in trouble, it’s Ralphie who becomes their next target. They flip his lunch tray, pelt him with balls, and target him with peashooters. Ralphie won’t let anyone, even older brother Louie, help him confront the bullies, and he certainly doesn’t want the adults to know. “I don’t need anyone else fighting my battles,” he insists, determined not to become a tattletale. But every attempt Ralphie makes to stand up for himself results in Ralphie getting in trouble. When Louie collaborates, albeit grudgingly, with Ralphie’s attempt to “fight fire with fire,” the two of them end up hurting someone they really like. The boys’ tough, cool—and disappointed—dad explains that sometimes you just need to ask the adults for help, even if it makes you feel like a tattletale. All the boys, even the bullies, make restitution for their wrongs, and good parenting wins the day. Gentle, supportive humor is reinforced by the comical illustrations.

Instructive—delightfully so. (Animal fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0746-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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