cover image The Snurtch

The Snurtch

Sean Ferrell, illus. by Charles Santoso. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5656-2

Everyone has his or her demons. Ruthie’s is called the Snurtch, and he’s orange, scrawly like a crayon drawing, and resembles a cross between a lion, raccoon, and dinosaur. “The Snurtch is grabby and burpy and rude,” writes Ferrell, who, along with Santoso, explored another less-than-healthy relationship in I Don’t Like Koala (2015). The Snurtch also has little respect for authority figures (“When Teacher calls on Ruthie, the Snurtch threw her pencils”), but after Ruthie shares a portrait of her nemesis in class, the exercise triggers an epiphany: yes, the Snurtch is part of her, but it doesn’t control her. The Snurtch isn’t vanquished (nobody’s perfect), but with Ruthie’s new sense of self, it becomes a little more empathic, which vastly improves her feelings toward school. It’s beautifully true to life, and Santoso’s quick-tempered heroine, with her eloquent grimaces and pigtails that festoon her head like architectural detailing, is fully deserving of readers’ sympathies. And as the final pages make clear, Ruthie is hardly alone in having an attitude that can get a little beastly. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Janet Reid, FinePrint Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Justin Rucker, Shannon Associates. (Aug.) [/em]