The Snurtch sits in Ruthie’s seat at school, all furry, spiky, goofy, and googly-eyed, waiting—just as she expected.
It hovers, pokes, and pants, orange hair and jagged mouth going every which way, getting the fair-skinned girl all mixed up in its misdeeds and bad behavior. It is “scribbly and scrunchy”; it’s “grabby and burpy and rude.” The other kids recoil. Children whose cheeks flush with quick anger and whose school days are riddled with frustration and regret will empathize deeply with Ruthie’s helplessness at the hands of her Snurtch. And, looking at the Snurtch, which appears as a childlike drawing superimposed over polished, detailed illustrations of Ruthie, her school, and classmates, they might quickly see that Ruthie, in fact, misbehaves, since the Snurtch makes it all but impossible not to. While the Snurtch doesn't appear scary (it looks kind of silly), its perfect embodiment of overwhelming (and instantly regrettable) impulses borders on heart-wrenching. Every student harbors and battles a Snurtch, as readers see with relief on the final pages of this clever, pertinent book, but some have bigger, more monstrous ones than others. Ruthie's dark brow, set mouth, and hooded eyes make clear the weighty burden she carries around like a backpack.
Original in its visual and linguistic presentation of behavioral problems, this important call for understanding should sit on library, classroom, and bedrooms shelves—the high ones, just above a Snurtch's reach. (Picture book. 2-8)