cover image Rita & Ralph’s Rotten Day

Rita & Ralph’s Rotten Day

Carmen Agra Deedy, illus. by Pete Oswald. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-338-21638-7

The classic hand game “Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle” is recast here with two best friends who live “in two little houses, on two little hills.” To reach their favorite playing spot, an apple tree at the midpoint between their houses, each must travel “down the hill, and up the hill, and down the hill, and up the hill”—a rolling geography underscored by the book’s horizontal format and undulating typography. One day, Ralph bops Rita on the head with a rock and runs away; he belatedly tromps to her house to make amends but can only muster a grumpy, shouted apology. A fuming Rita then tromps to Ralph’s house and retaliates with a demand (“I WANT MY PINECONE BACK!”). In each instance, the hilly terrain gives the kids plenty of opportunity to build up a full steam of guilty anger and resentment. But a new day dawns, sincere regrets are expressed (“I’m sorry!” “I’m sorrier!”), and the fun—via zombie tag and daisy chains—resumes. Oswald’s (The Sad Little Fact) jaunty style and digital gouache watercolor textures give the pictures a lighthearted feel, while bouncy text by Deedy (The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!) has just enough repetition to be compelling. Ages 4–8. [em](Mar.) [/em]