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Back to School for Rotten Ralph Paperback – July 25, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-K-In their latest adventure, Sarah is heading off to school and that rotten rascal Ralph does not want to be left behind. With the mannerisms of a younger sibling, the cat jealously contrives to keep the girl at home with childish pranks and ploys. When Sarah, who has an adultlike ability to see through his antics, continues on to school determined to make new friends, that devilish red feline disguises himself and follows her. He thwarts her every effort to make friends until his pranks backfire. From start to finish, Ralph's dual personality is evident as he alternates between being a loving, helpful pet and a gleefully mischievous cat. As in previous titles about this pair, Sarah continues to love Ralph despite his bad behavior. "I made a lot of new friends today. But you'll always be at the top of my list." Large-print text along with entertaining pictures invite children to enjoy another milestone in Sarah and Ralph's lives. The vibrantly colored artwork, filled with humorous details, will endear this comical cat to pet lovers everywhere.
Kit Vaughan, J. B. Watkins Elementary School, Midlothian, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Ages 4^-8. When Sarah starts school in the fall, her famously rotten feline, Ralph, is left at home, all alone by the telephone. But not for long! The rotten--and wily--one has a plan: with the aid of a disguise, HE will become Sarah's new school friend. But with friends like Ralph, who needs enemies? As Sarah tells her teacher, with masterful understatement, "I've had a difficult day." But even Ralph can come a cropper, and despite his jealous efforts to keep her to himself, Sarah at last manages to make lots of new friends. Does that mean there's no room left in her heart for Ralph? Let's just say that even rotten cats can hope for happy endings. Gantos and Rubel have collaborated to create another wickedly funny adventure about a cat so rambunctiously rotten that you've just gotta love him. Michael Cart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 280L (What's this?)
  • Series: Rotten Ralph
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (July 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064437051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064437059
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Parry McCluer on July 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Here's a book about the first day of school that doesn't have the main character dreading her first day of school. On the contrary, Sarah is excited at the thought of making new friends.
But not everyone in the household is as happy for Sarah. In fact, Ralph, Sarah's rotten red cat, is doing everything he can to sabotage her school day: he sets back her clock, draws all over her new school dress and tries to trick her into staying home by faking an illness.
When Ralph gets the bright idea to follow Sarah to school, his antics get her in trouble and keep her from making new friends. Fans of Rotten Ralph--this is the ninth book in the series--know that all's well that ends well, but first-time readers may be a bit put off by Ralph, who seems just a tad too mean.
Rubel's chunky illustrations are colorful and bold. Her rendering of Ralph captures his true spirit right on the money...he's bright red with pointy ears and a devilish grin.
Gantos' book would be a good way to explore the jealousy that younger siblings might feel when an older brother or sister gets to try a new and exciting experience that they don't. Younger children might not recognize themselves in Rotten Ralph and his outrageous tactics, but I'm betting that parents will.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 11, 2005
Format: School & Library Binding
"Back to School for Rotten Ralph" has some of the most vivid, color-saturated illustrations I've seen recently. Nicole Rubel, one of my favorite illustrator/authors ("Cyrano the Bear," "A Cowboy Named Ernestine") draws busy backgrounds, reflecting Rotten Ralph's frenetic activity to keep Sarah from returning to school. It's not that the cat dislikes school; he just wants Sarah all to himself. The time-tested slapstick humor is very easy to understand. Ralph gives Sarah some trick soap and her newly washed face turns orange. Just behind her, so that all is perfectly clear, we see Ralph smiling mischievously, holding a package labeled "orange trick soap."

Ralph's sabotage is not subtle. He draws his face on Sarah's first-day-of-school clothes (and looks only slightly sorry when Sarah angrily informs him "that's not nice..."). He covers his face with whopped cream for that sick "foaming at the mouth" look. "Ralph," Sarah said with a smile, "you look strange, but you'll be alright."

When Sarah finally gets away and arrives at school. Ralph follows in a very unconvincing outfit (he doesn't cover his tail, for one thing!). Ralph's pranks just keep on coming. Some antics are right out of old comics and movies (e.g., tying Sarah's shoelaces together), but also show some malevolent imagination (putting stinky fish bones in Sarah's lunch, again depriving Sarah of the chance to make a new friend). Author Jack Gatos' dialogue is realistic, and Ralph's tricks are both silly and clever. Nicole Rubel's illustrations also help keep the humor fresh and interesting. She shows wide-eyed emotion, adds lots of action and detail, and uses vibrant colors. The foreshortened perspective increases the action, and brings Sarah and Rotten Ralph to the foreground.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Davidson on October 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read some other reviews of the Rotten Ralph books, and there were some that were negative because of exactly how rotten Ralph's behavior is (thinking that kids would not recognize it was not the role model). But there is a strong lesson in these stories that was missed... no matter how bad Ralph's behavior is, there is a clear message that no matter what, there is nothing he can do that will make his people family love him less. That's an important thing for kids to know... that no matter how badly they mess up, their family will always love them and want them and help them to do better. There are second chances, and even a little remorse and attempts at improved behavior on Ralph's part.

The children I've read this to absolutely LOVE it... I think they feel a little better about their own bad behavior when it stacks up next to Ralph. But the strong message is that consistent love can overcome a lot of bad stuff and make the world a better place.
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