cover image Three Strikes for Rotten Ralph

Three Strikes for Rotten Ralph

Jack Gantos, illus. by Nicole Rubel, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $16.99 (48p) IS

In this early reader, Ralph, the storied tomato-red cat with a jack-o-lantern grin, has home run aspirations. But when it's time for tryouts, Ralph is too focused on being a "superstar" to listen to his owner Sarah's advice. Though Sarah makes the Fighting Squirrels and Ralph doesn't, he becomes the team's "cat boy," giving him a chance to hone his skills. Busy daydreaming and practicing his autograph, Ralph doesn't bother practicing, and when he fills in for a sick player, his overconfidence results in a belly flop. Gantos and Rubel offer easy reading, funny pictures, and an accessible lesson about humility and hard work—sprinkled with some legit baseball pointers. Ages 6–8. (Feb.)