It’s Poetry Month—time for the First Annual Peter Rabbit Elementary School Poetry Contest!
First-, second-, and third-place winners each get a gift certificate to Clawmart. Rat brothers Louie and Ralphie Ratso intend to win so they can buy new skateboards. But then woodchuck Chuck Wood, the coolest kid in school, derails the brothers’ plans. Chuck has a crush on geek-girl gardener Fluffy, a spectacles-wearing rabbit pal of Louie’s, and he wants Louie’s help getting her attention. Soon Louie’s abandoning his brother and their poetry project to carry out Project Fluffy. Louie’s advice: give her flowers, write her a poem, give her candy. After all, girls love that stuff: “It’s, like, a fact,” Louie tells Chuck prior to each attempt. After numerous failures, Ralphie tells his brother: “Fluffy is a person and not a project.” Their dad, Big Lou, agrees: “Women aren’t projects or objects.” To get a girl’s attention you need to find out what she likes and take an interest in it. When Louie passes this advice to Chuck, will the love-struck groundhog give it a try? A wry, third-person, present-tense voice narrates this story about crushes, brothers, and togetherness. While the denouement is developmentally spot-on (Fluffy and Chuck decide to be friends), the heteronormative assumptions about romance feel a little stodgy. Large type, lots of comedic black-and-white illustrations, and reading-level-appropriate text suit the book to newly independent readers.
The Ratso brothers’ third outing is good, anthropomorphic fun. (Animal fantasy. 5-9)