THREE STRIKES FOR ROTTEN RALPH

From the Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers series

Has Ralph learned nothing in more than 30 years of misadventures and misbehavior? As always, when faced with a challenge, he takes the path of least effort. Sarah has endless patience with her recalcitrant cat while preparing for baseball tryouts. She practices throwing, fielding and hitting; he just practices his idea of superstar skills, like signing autographs and giving TV interviews. Of course his tryout is a disaster, but he becomes the “cat-boy.” When he finally gets his chance, his showboating nearly loses the game. For this Rotten Ralph Rotten Reader, Gantos employs simple, direct language with just the right infusion of baseball jargon. He plays it straight, describing the events, the relationship between child and cat, the baseball action and the celebrity status of the game’s heroes. Rubel’s bright, sharp cartoons provide the hilarity, depicting Ralph’s goofy expressions as he reluctantly performs his duties, including substituting for the “mighty flying squirrel” mascot, all the while imagining himself a hero and a media darling. Ralph’s only redeeming quality is his love for Sarah, but his irrepressible rottenness will delight newly independent readers. (Early reader. 6-8)

 

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-36354-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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