"Stories are everywhere!" exclaims Ralph's teacher, and Hanlon proves it in her debut picture book. While Ralph's classmates eagerly scribble stories, he displays his creativity by finding excuses to leave the room. When Ralph complains that he can't write a story because "NOTHING happens to me," his friend Daisy replies, "Are you kidding?... I've written a ton of stories about you!" (one describes Ralph's nail-painting adventure: "then the teechr sed oooo no its prmanent marker!"). Eventually, Ralph finds inspiration in a memory of an encounter with an inchworm, and when it comes time to share his story, Ralph's classmates' questions prompt him to wildly embellish it, emphasizing the value of oral storytelling. Hanlon's loose, rudimentary watercolor and colored pencil cartoons are as authentically childlike as Ralph's voice; literary lions like Olivia and Babar decorate the walls of Ralph's classroom, speech bubbles provide humorous asides, and Ralph's wide, craggy line of a mouth easily conveys frustration, anger, nervousness, and confidence. A closing lineup of staple-bound books, among them When Milk Came Out of My Nose and The Smelly Band-Aid, prove that Ralph has left his writer's block behind. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
K-Gr 3--Ralph's teacher says that stories are everywhere. His fellow students have no trouble finding them, telling them, and writing them down. However, Ralph's paper stays blank. Great storytelling examples surround him. Enticing bits of the other children's stories appear in speech bubbles around the room, while pieces of paper display their invented spelling. These are everyday occurrences, told and received enthusiastically. "Then Grandma gave me a cup of coffee and said, 'Don't tell your mother.'" "After that, I decided to hide my Halloween candy in my bed." Ralph's struggle comes to a climax when he's asked to tell the whole class his story. He drags himself to the front of the rug. His heart thumps. What happens next restores his self-confidence and introduces him to his own abundance of adventures. The watercolor and colored-pencil pictures are engaging, varied, and beautifully suited to the text. Ralph's tips and numerous book titles, found at the end of this story, are an inspiration. Pair this book with Tad Hills's Rocket Writes a Story (Random, 2012) for an excellent introduction to writing. A splendid debut.--Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY[Page 91]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.