GRODY'S NOT SO GOLDEN RULES

Nicole Rubel, Author . Harcourt/Silver Whistle $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-15-216241-2

Grody, a slovenly brown pooch with pointy ears, deserves his gross-plus-dirty name. In this list of rules to live by, he makes a mess of his room, wears "disgusting smelly socks" and advocates both sleeping late and never going to bed ("Why not stay up all night watching TV? You're just going to have to get up again in the morning!"). Each spread features a lifestyle suggestion, quaintly framed in a yellow border, and an ineffectual plea from a horrified authority figure. When a cafeteria worker says, "Don't belch in public," Grody presents "Rule Number Eight: Burping is an excellent way to relax after a good meal!" When his sister reminds him, "Your napkin goes on your lap," the ketchup-and-mustard-covered Grody replies with "Rule Number Ten: Why use a napkin when there's a perfectly good shirt to wipe your hands on?" Rubel, illustrator of the Rotten Ralph books, favors intense magic-marker hues and swirly, skater-chic checkerboards and stripes.

Photo-collage elements contribute a dog-covered bulletin board in the school hallways ("Class of '71") and a (literally) rose-patterned skirt on Grody's sister. The protagonist seems perfectly happy with his nasty habits. Yet his final piece of advice ("Don't follow my rules or you will look just like meeeeeeeeeee!") suggests a departure, along with an oversize diagram that points out his "countless cavities," "poor eating habits" and "failing grades." Self-abasement is uncharacteristic of Grody, and the conclusion appears to have been hijacked by Miss Manners. Ages 5-8. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/14/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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