Starred review in School Library Journal! / by abby hanlon

redstar Preschool to Grade 4: December 2012

HANLON, Abby. Ralph Tells a Story. illus. by author. 32p. Amazon. 2012. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-6180-7; ebook $3.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-6182-1. LC 2011036608.

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