PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT FOR ROTTEN RALPH

Gantos brings back that rascally red Rotten Ralph for the second entry in the Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers series (Rotten Ralph Helps Out, 2001). This time, the irrepressible, irresponsible Ralph and his owner, Sally, are joined by Ralph’s tiger-striped, supremely confident cousin Percy for a trip to a carnival and its midway full of familiar games of chance. To Rotten Ralph’s chagrin, the perfect Percy wins all the carnival games (he practiced), and Ralph finally resorts to cheating so he can win some prizes, too. Ralph gets his comeuppance, of course, as he always does, and he has to return his ill-gotten gains and suffer some mild consequences before finally winning the last game of the day fair and square. (And guess who ends up in the dunk tank.) Gantos has a winning formula with this transitional easy reader series: a funny, somewhat “naughty” character; amusing art in a recognizable style; and a worthwhile little lesson that both kids and adults will appreciate. (This is just the title to recommend to teachers who want a story that will nip cheating in the bud.) Though this plot is not as innovative as the first entry in the series, Ralph has his own special niche in the world of children’s literature, and now on the easy-reader shelves, too. And of course, he’ll be back for more of these delightful readers—because practice makes perfect. (Easy reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 20, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-36356-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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LIBRARY LION

Knudsen and Hawkes pick a perfect setting to express the idea that breaking rules can sometimes be a good thing. When a lion wanders into a small town public library the Head Librarian, Miss Merriweather, brushes off the protestations of her realistically officious colleague Mr. McBee and allows it to stay—so long as it keeps quiet, doesn’t run and makes itself useful cleaning books and licking envelopes while waiting for storytime to begin. Anxious-looking patrons of all ages quickly become accepting ones in Hawkes’s soft toned watercolors, and if Miss Merriweather’s hair and dress seem a bit stereotypical, occasional CRT monitors balance glimpses of rubber date stamps and a card catalog in his gracious, old style interiors. When Miss Merriweather takes a fall, the lion roars to attract help, then slinks out in shame—but McBee redeems himself by bustling out into the rain to inform the offender that Exceptions to the Rules are sometimes allowed. Consider this a less prescriptive alternative to Eric A. Kimmel’s I Took My Frog to the Library (1990), illustrated by Blanche Sims—and it doesn’t hurt that the maned visitor is as huge and friendly looking as the one in James Daugherty’s classic Andy and the Lion. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-2262-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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Hee haw.

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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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