Jack Gantos

Rotten Ralph Helps Out

Sarah is excited about her school project on ancient Egypt. She would like Ralph’s help. But Ralph’s idea of helping out is no help at all. According to Sarah, the ancient Egyptians believed cats were wise and had special powers. Can Rotten Ralph prove them right?


“Fans of Gantos’s irrepressible Ralph who are ready to graduate from picture books will eagerly leap into this early chapter book, the first installment of the Rotten Ralph Rotten Reader series. Not surprisingly, the disaster-prone feline initially does not help out at all, but rather comically wreaks havoc as he accompanies Sarah to the library. While she researches a school project on the Egyptians, Ralph constructs a pyramid out of books and practices writing hieroglyphics on the walls. Back home, the rambunctious cat, more determined than ever to offer assistance, proceeds to flood the bathroom when Sarah suggests they build a model of an Egyptian boat; he also fills the living room with sand and palm trees when she considers building a desert oasis. In a pleasing if predictable turnabout, Ralph comes to Sarah’s rescue when he dresses up as the Sphinx to provide her with a winning project for school. The author sprinkles his lighthearted narrative with facts about ancient Egyptian culture and lifestyle. His animated pictures feature ample amusing particulars and reveal the less-than-rotten Ralph with a range of diverting facial expressions. Gantos gets it right again. Ages 6-8.”

“That infamous feline is now appearing in a new series of beginning readers. In this story, Ralph assists his owner, Sarah, with her class project on ancient Egypt. Readers will learn a bit about the life and customs of this fascinating place and time while they build their literacy skills. Throughout the short chapters, Ralph is up to his usual tricks; he gets into trouble for building a pyramid of books and writing hieroglyphics on the walls during a visit to the library. The colorful and humorous illustrations add appeal and reinforce Ralph’s rotten behavior. A wise choice for youngsters making the transition from picture books to chapter books.”

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