Author: Kara LaReau
Genre: beginning reader
Similar books: Dexter the Tough by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Weekends With Max and His Dad by Linda Urba
Summary(provided by publisher): Louie and Ralphie Ratso are no softies! Readers are sure to chuckle as the determined Ratso brothers’ plans to act tough go hilariously awry.
Louie and Ralphie Ratso’s dad, Big Lou, always says that there are two kinds of people: those who are tough and those who are soft. Louie and Ralphie are tough, tough, tough, just like Big Lou, and they’re going to prove it. But every time they try to show just how tough they are, the Ratso brothers end up accidentally doing good deeds instead. What’ll Big Lou do when he finds out they’ve been acting like softies all over the Big City? Perfect for emerging and reluctant readers, this clever and surprisingly warmhearted chapter book shows that being tough all the time can be really tough.
My Opinion: Firstly, this is a solid choice for kids beginning to read chapter books. The characters are likeable and have a basic level of complexity. Their aim is one that kids will relate to: to seem tough and gain their father's acceptance. The resolution is more emotionally complex but stated clearly enough to guarantee understanding. It works well enough on this level. I could also imagine using this book with older kids as a simple way to explore characterization. The Ratsos see themselves as tough, as bad guys, but their efforts always work out to be positive. Their actions, while intended to be mean on the surface, always end up helping those they wanted to hurt, implying that they meant to be kind all along, revealing their true character. This interpretation may be a bit of a stretch but as a simple example, I think it works.
More Information: The Infamous Ratsos releases August 2.
Advance reader copy provided by NetGalley.