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by Jack Gantos & illustrated by Nicole Rubel

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2001
ISBN: 0-374-36355-2
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Rotten Ralph’s bouncy, semi-bad behavior and amusing antics have been delighting children for years in the long-running series from the versatile Gantos (Joey Pigza Loses Control, 2000, etc.). Now the irrepressible Ralph has moved on to “Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers” in this upper-level easy reader with an Egyptian theme that will dovetail nicely into first- and second-grade classrooms studying ancient Egypt. Ralph’s owner, the ever-cheerful Sarah, shares all the interesting facts she’s learned in the class Egyptian unit, and Ralph tries to help her with her library research and her individual class project, causing his familiar brand of minor troubles at every turn. (He does at least attempt to be helpful in this story, rather than rotten as in some of his previous capers.) Rubel’s flat, stylized illustrations in full color are a natural complement to the Egyptian style of art, and she adds a good deal of additional information on ancient Egyptian culture through her illustrations. The text is set in large type with plenty of white space, and the story is divided into four simple chapters. Although this will function well as an amusing and educational easy reader, it contains enough facts and illustrations about ancient Egypt to serve as the corner stone for a classroom thematic unit—all that and rascally red Rotten Ralph, too. (Easy reader. 6-8)