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The Rattlebang Picnic Hardcover – September 1, 1994

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The distinguished duo behind the droll The Boy Who Was Followed Home offer another absurdly amusing but less satisfying tale. The newlywed MacTavishes forgo the purchase of a reliable new car in favor of "an old rattlebang" so that they can also afford to have seven children. The whole family, including Granny MacTavish, piles in the rattlebang on picnic adventures. Granny is known for baked goods that are "tougher than old boots," and at Shark Park her picnic pizzas are more useful as Frisbees than food. Kellogg's boisterous, detailed illustratons underscore just how tough the pizzas are by showing a shark whose teeth fly out of his mouth after one bite. (Discerning fans will also chuckle over subtle cameo appearances from players in other Kellogg works.) When the family picnics at Mt. Fogg, the hot springs and geysers provide hours of fun--until Mt. Fogg erupts, and the rattlebang loses one of its wheels. As the "sinister hiss of red-hot lava" moves threateningly close, the children rally to the rescue by proposing that one of Granny's pizzas be used as a tire. While many will enjoy Mahy's spirited family, abrupt transitions may prevent the reader from forming more than a superficial connection to the story. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3-An original tall tale with an outrageously bizarre plot. When Jack and Marion McTavish get married, they have to decide between a "wonderful, speedy car that never breaks down" or a large family. They opt for children-seven of them-and an old rattlebang car. Meanwhile, Granny McTavish makes pizzas and pancakes that are so tough they can break sharks' teeth. One day, the entire family takes a picnic to the top of Mount Fogg, where they are caught by an erupting volcano. One of the inedible pizzas fills in for a wheel that has fallen off the old car, and the story ends happily. Only Mahy could concoct a story about an overcooked pizza saving a family from rivers of hot lava. Her writing is vivid, funny, and full of details that will be dear to a child's heart. And Kellogg's watercolors are a perfect match, adding to the air of deadpan chaos. For the lava, he has let his paints run together in an artful way, a departure from his usual contained look. Take children on this picnic, and you'll all enjoy the ride. A terrific picture book.
Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dial; 1st edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803713185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803713185
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.6 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,233,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read The Rattlebang Picnic to all of my kids since they were little. I still read it to my toddler every day as it's one of her favorites. It's such a cute story with such a great message. The Mactavishes had to decide when they got married if they would have a nice, new fancy car or a smallish (7 kids!) family and settle for an old rattle bang car. They choose the family life and the old car. They spend lots of time together, and go on lots of crazy adventures in their old Rattlebang.

I love that this book teaches kids that family and spending time is more important than material possessions. The family gets in some jams and they all work together to get out of the jams. Too many kids books these days don't have anything worthwhile to teach and are just mindless reading. I feel like my kids have learned something by reading this book even though they don't realize it. This is a great story and any age can appreciate it.
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By A Customer on July 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Anyone who grew up in a large family can relate to crazy family outings and the inevitable trade-off between fancy things and more children. We love this great book, especially the wonderful Steven Kellogg illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We are actually on our second copy of this book. The first copy we chanced to pick up randomly at a library book sale, included in a bag of randomly chosen books. It has become a family favorite. While our family isn’t quite as large as the McTavish family, my children still enjoy reading about the adventures of another family where there are lots of children. I can relate to Mr. and Mrs. McTavish who decided to have lots of children rather than a speedy new car and who seem very content in their decision. And in the end it’s those children (and some help from Granny) who save the day. Yes, the plot is a little far-fetched but in the end the story works wonderfully and is very family affirming.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We loved this one! I like to find books that highlight the joys of a big family, and this one fits the bill. It's also silly in a way my kids enjoyed but isn't obnoxious to adults - pizza too hard to eat, picnicking on a volcano, a car called "the old rattlebang." I wish it wasn't out of print, but it was well worth buying used.
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Format: Paperback
Margaret Mahy's exuberant "Rattlebang Picnic" is fun for everyone--parents and kids alike. The tale of an energetic family who likes to rattle around in an old automobile on trips hither and yon (to Shark Park, for instance!), this particular picnic turns into an adventure none of them will ever forget.
The kids turn out to save the day--I won't tell you how--when they hit on an ingenious way to escape the danger threatening their bucolic meal.
Steve Kellogg's rollicking, movement-filled illustrations perfectly suit the high-energy mix of the text, and there are lots of fun semi-hidden goodies for wee tots to find if they look closely enough. All in all, lots of good fun!
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