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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Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

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AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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