Opposites may attract, but readers will remain uncharmed by this dry picture-book sequel.
Rat has allowed his best friend, Roach, to be the lead singer for his band, and the finicky insect could not be happier. Fashioning outfits worthy of Elvis’ late period, Roach is astounded when he discovers that the down-and-dirty crew doesn’t want to touch the fancy duds. Off they go to a hot gig, but Roach can’t sing a note. It’s only when the entire band concedes and gives him what he wants that they are able to rock the joint. The apparent message to be drawn is that while it’s a bad thing to force one person to abandon their sparkle and shine, it is perfectly A-OK to make three people cave in to that one crybaby’s demands. As with his previous book, Rat and Roach (2012), Covell is strongest when drawing episodes of manic energy. The book’s digital gymnastics evoke the splatter, smells and feel of the filthy pavements. While the writing lags, the gritty gleam of the city streets goes for broke.
Since it isn’t either funny or gross enough to truly succeed, place this one only where the previous title has already proved popular. (Picture book. 4-7)