Instructive—delightfully so.

RATTY TATTLETALE

From the Infamous Ratsos series

A new life lesson for Ralphie and Louie Ratso, with an assist from their savvy single dad.

When a pair of bullies from the fifth grade start picking on mouse third grader Tiny, his classmate Ralphie the rat tells them to stop. But when Kurt and Sid get in trouble, it’s Ralphie who becomes their next target. They flip his lunch tray, pelt him with balls, and target him with peashooters. Ralphie won’t let anyone, even older brother Louie, help him confront the bullies, and he certainly doesn’t want the adults to know. “I don’t need anyone else fighting my battles,” he insists, determined not to become a tattletale. But every attempt Ralphie makes to stand up for himself results in Ralphie getting in trouble. When Louie collaborates, albeit grudgingly, with Ralphie’s attempt to “fight fire with fire,” the two of them end up hurting someone they really like. The boys’ tough, cool—and disappointed—dad explains that sometimes you just need to ask the adults for help, even if it makes you feel like a tattletale. All the boys, even the bullies, make restitution for their wrongs, and good parenting wins the day. Gentle, supportive humor is reinforced by the comical illustrations.

Instructive—delightfully so. (Animal fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0746-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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