The Books

The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph

by Jack Gantos
Illustrated by Nicole Rubel

One Potato Review

A retrospective, partly, of Ralph’s greatest hits, or anyway his punishments – caught by the tail running wild through Pierre’s Poodle Parlor, a janitor’s job at the circus, kicking and screaming in the self-control room at Mr. Fred’s cat obedience school – framed against the shocking diagnosis of Ralph’s mortality. All nine lives dwindling momentously to one, Ralph becomes resigned to getting pushed around in a baby buggy, and gulping Vital Vitamins. Of course this speaks to children who are always being strapped into things, and fussed about, and made to eat healthy, but it’s also potentially compelling to those of us who are at least a little anxious about our own obsolescence. Don’t worry: he comes to his senses eventually, even if this is the end of the road. Featuring his ghostly (misleading) appearance among the constellations, and a couple of electric eels to save the day.

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