Best friends don’t always get along is the well-worn lesson of this tale of philosophically opposed urban pests.
Rat and Roach are buds, but they can certainly get on each other's nerves. While casual Rat enjoys swimming through crud, making a mess and farting, the surprisingly meticulous Roach prefers tidiness, flower scents and (in the case of his cooking) originality. So can these two friends make up after a big fight? Readers won’t spend a whole lot of time wondering, since the fight feels fairly arbitrary—if readers can spot it at all. The narrative opens with a lengthy, present-tense description of the friends' differences, then shifts to the past tense with what seems to be the aftermath of a specific but unseen argument, making it feel like a tension-free gag rather than a story. Covell’s talents lie in his art, his book filled to brimming with spray-paint drips, clouds of noxious fumes and humorous details; the image of the two grumpy friends brushing their teeth in parallel is laugh-out-loud funny. But without a story, the illustrations, which are mostly displayed against a pure-white or light-gray background, aren't enough to raise the book from merely okay to new and interesting.
In the end, there are plenty of odd-couple picture books already available. Consider this only for a readership ravenous for city-critter fiction. (Picture book. 4-8)