Ralph Reviewed in Publishers Weekly / by abby hanlon

Ralph Tells a Story

Abby Hanlon. Amazon Children’s Publishing, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7614-6180-7

“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.)

Reviewed on:

08/27/2012