The Infamous Ratsos (Infamous Ratsos #1)

by Kara Lareau (Author) Matt Myers (Illustrator)

The Infamous Ratsos (Infamous Ratsos #1)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Infamous Ratsos

A 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book

Louie and Ralphie Ratso are no softies! Readers are sure to chuckle as the determined Ratso brothers' plans to act tough go hilariously awry. Louie and Ralphie Ratso's dad, Big Lou, always says that there are two kinds of people: those who are tough and those who are soft. Louie and Ralphie are tough, tough, tough, just like Big Lou, and they're going to prove it. But every time they try to show just how tough they are, the Ratso brothers end up accidentally doing good deeds instead. What'll Big Lou do when he finds out they've been acting like softies all over the Big City? Perfect for emerging and reluctant readers, this clever and surprisingly warmhearted chapter book shows that being tough all the time can be really tough.

More books in the series - See All


A nicely inventive little morality "tail" for newly independent readers.


Here's a beginning chapter book with heart.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4—Everyone in the Big City knows the Ratsos. Third grader Ralphie and fifth grader Louie live with their father, Big Lou, in the animal metropolis. Their mother's unexplained absence has the family resorting to "toughness" as a means of survival. Big Lou tells his sons to "hang tough." These half-pints surmise that talking about your feelings, making friends, and being kind are only for "softies." They plan to show how tough they are by pulling pranks on their classmates and neighbors. But all of their antics backfire, leading to unwanted consequences. This animal protagonist tale is lighthearted and fun. The writing is straightforward and easy, while the pen-and-ink artwork is detailed. These characters are complex enough to interest newly independent readers, and the story resolution is heartfelt and solid. The father-son dynamic is realistic and honest. Young readers will feel for the family as they learn to deal with the absence of a loved one. This slender novel packs a strong message of overcoming loss through love and kindness. VERDICT A solid purchase; a chapter book that entertains and uplifts.—Sada Mozer, Los Angeles Public Library

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review

Louie and Ralphie Ratso are determined to be as tough as their truck-driver father, but the rats' efforts go hilariously awry in this funny, thoughtful, and smart chapter book. In episodic escapades, they steal a classmate's hat, make a new student a sandwich from the "worst foods they can find," and soap a neighbor's windows, only to be met with gratitude. "Pickled mushrooms and beets and eggplant, just like my nana used to make!" gushes gleeful sandwich recipient Fluffy Rabbitski. LaReau packs substantial comedy and poignant emotion into each chapter (the boys' mother has "been gone for a little while now"), adeptly amplified by Myers's spot art. Ages 5-8. Author's agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Action and real emotion are packed appealingly into this rumbustious tale for readers ages 5-8." —The Wall Street Journal
Kara Lareau
Kara LaReau is the author of a number of picture books, including Ugly Fish, Mr. Prickles, and Otto: The Boy Who Loved Cars, all illustrated by Scott Magoon. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with her family.

Matt Myers is the illustrator of E-I-E-I-O: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help from a Hen by Judy Sierra, and Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind by Gary Ross, as well as many other books for young readers. Matt Myers lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2017
Infamous Ratsos
Geisel Medal (Dr. Seuss)
Honor Book

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