Ralph was not a normal raccoon. He looked like any other raccoon, but he certainly didn’t act like them. He was polite, clean, and tidy. His parents were frustrated and so sent him to Bandit School where he could learn to be naughty, dirty and thieving. Ralph had an awful time in school because he was just too nice. When his teacher announced the Best Bandit in School competition, Ralph just knew that there was no way he would ever win. He spent his break reading inside instead of causing trouble out on the streets like his classmates. Can a nice raccoon ever come out ahead?
Shaw captures the naughtiness of raccoons with glee. They are shown with frizzy fur, bad breath, and are often playing pranks and taking other animals’ things. Yet they are never frightening, despite the worry on other characters’ faces, they are rascals rather than being gang-like. Children will love many of the touches here, including burping in class and brushing teeth with chocolate.
The text is simple and tells a good story, often crooked on the page. The illustrations and text work well together, sometimes playing off of one another in style.
This is a book that speaks to the importance of manners but in a way that remains fun and light-hearted throughout. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Alfred A. Knopf.
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