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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sadie and Ratz, written by Sonya Hartnett and illustrated by Anne James. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2012. $17.00 ages 6 and up

"When Sadie grows up, she wants to be a dragon. When Ratz grows up, he wants to be a bigger Ratz. Ratz does what Sadie tells him to do. Together, they make a good team. This is what they do:

crush things up
twist and scrunch
scratch! scratch! scratch!"

What a great story! Easy to read straight through, and packing a powerful punch, it is Hannah's story. Her hands have met them above. Sadie and Ratz can cause numerous problems for Hannah. Their actions are not generally pleasant, or entertaining except to themselves.

They really get busy when Hannah's pint-sized sibling, Baby Boy, is anywhere nearby. They watch his mischief and try to teach him a lesson that will keep him from repeating what he is doing. Write on the walls, expect an ear rub!

Baby Boy does not take kindly to the mistreatment and is always voices his displeasure. The typical response lands Hannah in hot water for bothering her little brother. The bad behavior escalates and Hannah is always on the hook for the trouble caused. Everyone is quick to blame her, despite her assurances that she is not the one at fault.

Fed up, she sends Sadie and Ratz on vacation. No more blaming them for things that happen. Discoveries are made that prove Baby Boy is not the upstanding citizen the family believes him to be:

"But Baby Boy was a good boy. At least, that's what everyone thought.
And then we guessed who had really been drawing on walls, spilling milk, stealing legs and breaking clocks. We all looked down at Baby Boy's hands.
Baby Boy smiled liked a happy, crazy monkey."

Wonderful charcoal illustrations perfectly match the tone and message of this truly inspired and entertaining tale. Scratchy, dark and full of expression and action, they add incredible depth to the telling.

I think that Maurice Sendak would truly appreciate Sonya Hartnett's newest book.

I do, too! And I think that you will...

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