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The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers, 64 pp, RL 2



The Infamous Ratsos is a rare little chapter book written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Matt Myers. I say rare because it's not often that I get to read a book at this reading level that feels like a real chapter book, rather than a leveled reader. The Infamous Ratsos is written in simple but colorful language and is perfect for newly independent readers or even for a read out loud!

Louie and Ralphie Ratso are two brothers who hang tough, no matter what. They want to be just like their dad, Big Lou, who drives a truck and a forklift and sometimes a snow plow. There are two kinds of people in this world, says Big Lou, "Those who are tough and those who are soft." Louie and Ralphie get the message and want to make their dad proud, especially since they are trying hard not to think about Mama Ratso, who's been gone for a little while now.

Louie, who considers himself the smart one, confuses being tough with being mean, which gets the brothers into a lot of sticky situations that don't go as planned. Stealing a hat from the biggest, baddest guy on the playground makes the brothers heroes. Turns out that Chad Badgerton stole the hat from Tiny Crawley on the bus that very morning. The brothers are praised for stopping a bully. And trying to slip a homemade sandwich filled with disgusting pickled foods to the new girl only ends up making the homesick rabbit feel better, as the pickles remind her of her nana.

More mess-ups ensue, and they get funnier as they go. Finally, Big Lou gets a letter about the boys's behavior. They try to deny being helpful, thoughtful, friendly and kind, saying they want to be TOUGH just like their dad, not softies. This gives Big Lou pause and the boys have a good talk, a cuddle and even a little cry. From then on, all the Ratsos are helpful guys. Like Big Lou says, "Life is tough enough, we might as well try to make it easier for one another, whenever we can."

Love these rats, the fantastic illustrations and the wonderful message to be found in The Infamous Ratsos.


Source: Review Copy

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