Friday, June 10, 2011

WORSE THAN ROTTEN, RALPH by Jack Gantos and Nicole Rubel

As I move out of my campus office, I'm finding books I've meant to write about...

Did you read Worse than Rotten, Ralph (1978) by Jack Gantos and Nicole Rubel? It is about a cat named Ralph who hangs out with some alley cats and gets into trouble.  I don't think it went out of print. Thirty years later, it is still going strong... even available for your Kindle! It is an engaging story.  Mischief-making is a lot of fun to read about. 

Below is a page from inside, after Ralph meets up with the alley cats. The text on the facing page reads:

"To the park!" ordered the leader. Ralph and the alley cats climbed up into a tree and knocked hats off the passers-by. Ralph knocked off almost as many hats as the other cats.

See the striped cat in the left corner? In a headdress? I guess that alley cat has taken the headdress away from someone hawking a Wild West Show. See him (her) below that cat? With arms upraised, holding a hatchet (tomahawk?)?

NOTE: A headdress is not a hat. Like a yarmulke, it is worn for specific events and ceremonies.

Reading Jack Gantos: An Author Kids Love (Parker-Rock, 2002), I learned that Gantos wrote the text, and Rubel did the illustrations. They were living in Boston at the time. Was there a Wild West show in Boston around then?! On Flickr I found a photograph taken in 1930 of a Wild West Show in Boston... I wonder what prompted Rubel to include the Wild West performer in the illustration?

Parker-Rock says that school librarians chose Worse Than Rotten, Ralph as one of the best books of the year. There are eighteen books about Rotten Ralph.

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