sadie and ratz

Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Ann James

Hannah’s hands are named Sadie and Ratz, and they get into all sorts of trouble.  They like to crunch, squish and squeeze things.  They are especially active when Hannah’s little brother, Baby Boy, does things like going into her room or using all of the markers.  Then Sadie and Ratz try to rub off his ears.  Baby Boy screams for help and Hannah gets into trouble.  But then one day, something strange happens and Sadie and Ratz get accused of drawing on the wall, when they were nowhere near there.  Baby Boy was there, but he tells his parents that Sadie and Ratz were the ones who did it.  Later, Baby Boy blamed Sadie and Ratz for his skinned knee.  He got a cookie and cuddles, while Hannah only got a cookie.  Things were getting out of control, so Hannah sent her hands on vacation so they could no longer be blamed for things they had not done.  After that, she discovered that her pet stick insect, Pin, was missing a leg.  Now that was taking it too far!  Whose busy hands could have done this?

This book is a delight.  It’s going to bother some people that the behavior the children are modeling here is not perfect.  Rather, it is naughty, childlike, and accurate.  This book reflects great parenting on the part of the parents in the book, an openness for creativity, and a welcome zing of real life.  These are children who don’t always tell the truth and have hands that get into mischief. 

The charcoal illustrations by James have a wonderful wild quality as well.  They are rough, often dark, and filled with shadows.  These are not illustrations filled with color, pink and glitter.  All signs point to the fact that this is a different sort of chapter book altogether.  And so it is.

An outstanding addition to beginning readers in libraries, this book will appeal to a certain kind of family and a certain kind of kid.  You know if you are one of those parents and if you are raising on of those kids.  Mine both are.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.