Campy (and camping) humor and a solid message will have readers wanting s’more! (Animal fantasy. 5-9)

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS CAMP OUT

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 4

The Ratsos go on a Big City Scouts camping trip.

When Big Lou brings his sons, Louie and Ralphie, and their scout group (introducing new characters as fellow scouts) on a big camping trip, he has a special surprise for them: Grandpa Ratso, who had been Big Lou’s scout leader back in the day, will be joining them to run the campout. Grandpa Ratso introduces them to the old Big City Scout Oath, which the older scouts latch onto: “No matter the problem / we solve it ourselves; / we know we can fix it / without any help.” They also adopt Grandpa’s dismissive attitude toward the handbook. This shift isn’t much of a stretch, as older side characters have already labeled brainy Velma a nerd and mocked her academic aptitude. The toxic masculinity that underlies this refusal to ask for help or direction is mined for all sorts of humorous mishaps—soggy tents, lack of food, and, of course, getting lost. Meanwhile, the younger scouts use their heads and, under the guidance of the handbook, rack up badges while saving the day, natch. The story’s climax brings in Grandma Ratso to set everyone straight, clearing up some confusion about the oath and reinforcing the message that it’s both smart and good to ask for help. While young readers may struggle with the cast size, the humor and funny illustrations make for a worthy compass.

Campy (and camping) humor and a solid message will have readers wanting s’more! (Animal fantasy. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0006-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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