Monday, August 8, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book two hundred and twenty

Children are often bombarded with demands that they sit up straight, that they don't play with their food, that they work hard at school, and so on. These demands can get very tiring sometimes, and not surprisingly most children wish they lived in a world where they didn't have to be good all the time. After all, what is the point?

In today's picture book, readers will meet a young raccoon who is expected to be bad all the time. What a perfect world you might think. Or could it be that being bad all the time is not as much fun as it sounds. Could it be that being good actually has its perks after all?

Hannah Shaw
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Random House UK, 2011, 978-1-780-08000-0
   Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon are very upset because their son Ralph is not behaving the way a raccoon should. Instead of being badly behaved, a slob, and a thief, their son is polite, considerate, and kind. At their wits end, Ralph’s parents decide to send him to the School for Bandits. Surely the teacher there will be able to straighten Ralph out and show him how to behave properly.
   Alas for Ralph! He makes a terrible student. He cannot seem to make himself behave badly in any of his classes or exercises. He is so hopeless that at the end of the term his teacher has no choice but to send Ralph home with a bad report card. Before her students leave, the teacher gives each of them a sack telling them that the raccoon who fills the sack “with the most loot will win the BEST BANDIT IN THE SCHOOL competition.” Poor Ralph goes home knowing perfectly well that he has no hope of filling his bag because he refuses to steal things.
   In this funny picture book, Hannah Shaw finds a way to show children that being good actually can be rewarding. Children will love the kooky illustrations, and they will be delighted when the underdog…er… underraccoon prevails in the end. 

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