Monday, August 22, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book two hundred and thirty-four

These days more and more people are realizing that overzealous teasing, hazing, and bullying can be very dangerous for the child who is on the receiving end of this treatment. More and more people are talking openly about the problem, and schools are making more of an effort to put a stop to it.

In today's picture book you are going to meet a little rat who is picked on so much that he tries to make himself as small and inconspicuous as he can. His story is touching, and it also empowering. 

Helen Lester
Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Houghton Mifflin, 1999, 978-0-395-92392-4
   Rodney Rat is a very unfortunate little fellow because he cannot for the life of him pronounce his r’s. This means that when he is asked what he name is, Rodney says that his name is Wodney Wat, and this answer makes all the other wodents…er…rodents in his class laugh at him.
   Picked on mercilessly by Hairy Hamster, Mimifeet Mouse and the other children in his class, Wodney tries to stay as inconspicuous as possible. He speaks so softly that no one can hear him, he eats alone at lunchtime, and he hides inside his jacket during recess.
  Then one day a new rodent comes into the classroom. Her name is Camilla Capybara and she is enormous. She is also meaner and smarter than all the other rodents, and she takes great pleasure in demonstrating what a clever bully she is. Soon everyone in the class is thoroughly cowed by Camilla, and it seems likely that she is going to be top rodent for the foreseeable future. Or perhaps not.
   In this deliciously funny and sweet picture book we meet a truly pitiful little rodent child who is the underdog in his peer group. Thankfully, Helen Lester decides to give Wodney Wat a break, and his inspirational story will give readers hope that sometimes the underdog really can change his story.

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