cover image Happy Birthday, Rotten Ralph

Happy Birthday, Rotten Ralph

Jack Gantos. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-395-53766-4

Kids have seen--and have loved seeing--Ralph be thoroughly rotten, even at Christmas, so it comes as no surprise that this fractious feline decides to act up on his birthday. As usual, his antics are totally outrageous, and entirely enjoyable. Ralph is on his worst behavior from the very start of the day, as Sarah awakens to find him pawing through her closet in search of his present. When she tells Ralph that he will not get his gift until his party begins, he squirts toothpaste in her slippers. The patient girl puts up with a great deal of Ralph's rottenness, but when he begins swinging on streamers and popping balloons she threatens to cancel the festivities and sends him to his room. In the end, Ralph gets his cake and his present--a set of paints, with which he immediately (of course) makes a mess. Thanks to this talented author and illustrator, Ralph more than lives up to his reputation in his latest captivating caper. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)