Happy Birthday, Rotten Ralph

When I was little, my Aunt Doll gave me a copy of Jack Gantos’ Rotten Ralph and I was mesmerized. For reasons unknown to my eight year old heart, I just loved this awful, terrible, absolutely naughty cat and the little girl who loved him despite of it all. My children love it too – mostly because they get to watch a character do absolutely devilish things and laugh about it. So, in honor of my younger son’s 6th birthday today, I offer Happy Birthday, Rotten Ralph – a wickedly delightful romp through Ralph territory that leaves no mischievous deed undone. In it, the titular Ralph does everything from squirting toothpaste in his owner’s shoes to pouring prune juice in her cereal (which my grandma Deedles might have quite liked come to think of it). Nicole Rubel’s illustrations are truly fabulous and perfectly capture the whiskered imp who, no matter the misdeed, continues to enthrall us all.

When Martha’s Away

For anyone who has ever wondered what their cat does while they’re not at home, meet Lionel. This seemingly stereotypical cat turns the myth of the cat nap on its ear by living a double-life.  Once his owner, Martha, leaves the house, Lionel becomes quite another kitty. An avid weightlifter, gourmet cook and avid follower of current events, Lional is quite the renaissance man, er, cat and manages to squeeze all of his hobbies (including a call to his cousin in Atlantic City) into the tiny window of opportunity left to him while his owner is otherwise occupied. Bruce Ingman’s words and pictures are bold and bright and cheery and lend a fun and festive air to this delightful book.  Children will delight in this ever-so-sneaky and sophisticated cat and might just think twice before assuming their cat lies around all day in a pile of furry repose.