The Infamous Ratsos / The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid / written by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers. 9.12.2017

The Infamous Ratsos / written by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers.

Candlewick Press ISBN 9780763676360

The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid / written by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers.

Candlewick Press ISBN 9780763676377

PRI K-Grade 3 Rating: 5

Louie and Ralphie Ratsos want to be tough like their dad, Big Lou, in The Infamous Ratsos. Louie, the older brother who “considers himself the smart one” (p.7), devises several schemes intending to prove that he and his brother Ralphie are tough. The comical outcomes of his schemes have unexpected results. This short chapter book is most deserving of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book award it received.

Louie and Ralphie Ratsos continue to emulate their dad in The Infamous Ratsos are not Afraid. And Big Lou is not afraid of anything. So when Louie and Ralphie decide to start their very own carnival next to the local “Haunted House” inhabited by a “ghost,” they must be very brave. They enlist friends to help in their endeavor and work hard to clean up the empty lot. Unfortunately, they run into a few problems. At school, Ralphie gets teased for kissing “Stinky Stanko,” a girl in his class. At the carnival a bell flies off a game they created and through the window of the haunted house. Louie knows if he wants to get the bell back, he’ll have to face the ghost. Will they really be able to face their fears?

Kara LaReau’s animal characters are sweet and relatable in these entertaining stories. The plot moves quickly, the language is simple, and the great dialogue keep the story moving. Plentiful illustrations by Matt Myers add even more interest to these tales. Many wonderful lessons seamlessly weave their way through both books–no preaching needed. The importance of helping others and of admitting when you’ve done wrong are just two of those lessons. Big Lou offers wise advice in both books. “Life is tough enough,” says Big Lou. “We might as well make it easier for one another, whenever we can.” (The Infamous Ratsos, pg. 55) Also: “I just tell myself it’s OK to be afraid…and I try to be brave…I’m the boss of me, not my fears.” (The Infamous Ratsos are not Afraid, pp. 36-37)

Kristina Wolcott, CLJ