Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE ROTTEN BOOK by Steven Kellogg

THE ROTTEN BOOK

illustrated by Steven Kellogg & by Mary Rodgers

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1969
ISBN: 0064430812
Publisher: Harper & Row

The Rotten Book is really two books, a worldly satire and a simple, rather old-fashioned cautionary tale. The trouble starts -- for Simon and the reader -- at the breakfast table where Simon is dawdling with his egg and his father is holding forth on a "rotten" little boy who's ungrateful for what he has (which matches what Simon has) and who's "going to land up in jail one of these days." Whereupon Simon, wondering what the boy did, goes through a day of being absolutely rotten to everyone and everything. When he's put Silly Putty in his sister's hair, cut it all off, locked her in a closet, and turned on the hi-fi and TV and FM so that no one can hear her, he gets his come-uppance; policemen and firemen are called to find her and when they do, Simon is taken away handcuffed while his family cheers. "He'd probably spend the rest of his life in jail (and) never even get an egg for breakfast." Cut to the breakfast table where Simon praises the egg and proceeds to behave like a model boy. The father's self-righteous condemnation of a little boy ìs odd to start with, and if he and Simon's mother are going through this elaborate charade on behalf of an egg, it's ludicrous. Either way, father's letter-perfect pompous and in today's context (and today's plots), the child is supposed to rebel, not capitulate. If he were to rebel, jail's not the timeliest deterrent; if it's meant simply as a warning, there are others more suitable. And suppose he didn't eat the **** egg -- would he have to feel rotten?