Rita and Whatsit by Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod, illustrated by Olivier Tallec
Rita and Whatsit at the Beach by Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod, illustrated by Olivier Tallec
Rita is grumpy even though it’s her birthday. She has stacks of presents but everything is wrong: too small, too big, too medium. Then she sees a present that is wiggling. She tries to open it and it runs away. When she catches and opens it a dog peeks out. Most readers expect a squeal of joy at this point. Nope. Instead she bellows at him, makes demands and continues her grump. It isn’t until she runs through a list of possible horrid names for him that she begins to smile and Whatsit starts to talk to her. The first book ends with them becoming friends.
The second book has Rita and Whatsit at the beach each with their own idea of what a perfect day at the beach is. They end up playing a game of pretend together that involves all of their favorite things like sandcastles, floating in the water and ends with Whatsit getting all of the sweet, sticky stuff he’s been wanting.
Both books offer a different kind of child than many other books. Rita is demanding, difficult, and wonderful. She threatens to change Whatsit’s name regularly, shouts loudly, but loves just as deeply. It is a pleasure to see a child that is a mix of negative and positive shown with such obvious pleasure.
Tallec’s art is simple and small, perfect for sharing with a small group or one-on-one. His use of simple lines and bursts of color make the book friendly and almost like a cartoon strip in style.
Share this with any little drama queens you might live with. Some of us grow up to be librarians after all! ;) Appropriate for ages 2-4.