Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day

by Carmen Agra Deedy

illustrated by Pete Oswald


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Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day

by Carmen Agra Deedy
illustrated by Pete Oswald

Review posted December 2, 2020.
Scholastic Press, 2020. 48 pages.
Review written March 5, 2020, from a library book
Starred Review
2020 Sonderbooks Standout:
#3 Fiction Picture Books

I want to read this book in a storytime! I recognized some elements from stories I’ve heard before, and sure enough, an Author’s Note at the back explains that the story is adapted from “the classic hand game, ‘Mr. Wiggle & Mr. Waggle,” and explains the hand motions you can use as you read the book. I think I would want to prop the book up and do just that.

But the story goes beyond that. It’s also a story of hurt feelings and reconciliation.

Here’s how the book begins:

In two little houses,
on two little hills,
lived two best friends.

Every morning, Rita and Ralph would
open their doors,
step outside,
close their doors,
and run . . .

. . . down the hill,
and up the hill,
and down the hill,
and up the hill.

They’d meet under the apple tree and high-five,
pinkie-shake,
do a cha-cha-cha,
play zombie tag,
and make daisy chains.

But one day, they try a new game, “Sticks and Stones,” and Rita gets hurt.

They don’t handle it well to start (running away) and feelings get hurt.

What follows is a tale of reconciliation. But that reconciliation involves a whole lot of going down the hill and up the hill and down the hill and up the hill.

And I think it’s going to be tremendous fun to read aloud. The story is enhanced by the long thin format showing all the hills between the two houses.