Thursday 16 February 2023

Ratbags: Naughty for Good

Ratbags: Naughty for Good by Tim Harris, illustrated by Shiloh Gordon (Puffin Books) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780143777441

Reviewed by Grace Power

Tim Harris’ writing style has seen his books receive multiple awards, including two KOALA Honour books, and a CBCA Notable. Now he publishes a humorous book for middle grade readers about a cartoonish rat, Jigsaw, so named because he does not fit in with other rats. ‘He is like a puzzle piece that will not squeeze into place, no matter how hard it is pressed.’ Other rats are ratbags, always up to no good. They clog up city sewers, chew through power lines, poop on the footpath, and cause all manner of trouble.

The main problem with Jigsaw is that he likes rules, in fact lives his life full of rules. For example, every morning he makes his bed, brushes his teeth, dusts his books, and practises piano (for exactly thirty minutes.) On the other hand, there are two typical ratbags, Ripple and Onion, who have just escaped from a science lab where humans did cruel experiments on them. They are anti-rule and try to get Jigsaw to follow their lifestyle of mayhem and chaos.

When a new pizza restaurant opens, there’s an opportunity for Ripple and Onion to encourage Jigsaw into a life of ratbaggery, which includes stealing a whole pizza.

This is a book filled on every page with lively, engaging illustrations which are sure to draw in even the most reluctant reader. There are plenty of speech balloons and type fonts of all different sizes. Reading the text means that the reader’s eyes jump all over the pages. It’s a lot of fun and the story moves along at a cracking pace.

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