The Ricker Racker Club by Patrick Guest and Nathaniel Eckstrom (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $ ISBN 9781760122928
Reviewed by J Wishart
This enjoyable picture book tells the story of brothers, Max and Ollie, and their secret club. The club’s rules allow girls under certain restrictions, and decree members must do ‘something incredibly brave or kind at least once a week.’ Thus each week, the boys busily do their ‘daring things’, while Poppy, the sole female member, takes care of the ‘kind things’ like sharing her ice-cream and cleaning the boys’ rooms for them.
Using acrylic, pencil and digital media, Eckstrom has captured the energy of play, but also evokes the exaggerated viewpoint of the child. The text adds to this with place names that tell how the boys see the world, such as the ‘tunnel of doom’ and ‘banana-peel bridge.’ Along with the scary ‘wolf’ that lives in the neighbour’s backyard, there are plenty of challenges to test their bravery.
The story is well-paced and ideal for reading aloud, and has plenty of visual cues for early readers to follow. The cover image is eye-catching, depicting the children on a night-time quest with the ‘wolf’ watching from a distance; while the illustrated text features places and activities that children will recognise and easily relate to.
The narrative follows a familiar fairy-tale format, with a repetition and escalation of events that ultimately leads to a shift of power. When it happens, the change is welcome and carries a positive message about equality and judging others.
The story of The Ricker Racker Club encourages the reader to think differently about what kind of behaviour truly takes the most strength of character; while also being fun and visually engaging.