Click HERE for the Latest NEWS and Events!

Rotten Ralph's Rotten Family

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 48

Price ( Hardcover ): $16.99

Publication Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-374-36353-6

Category: Picture Books

Series: Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers

Just how did Rotten Ralph get so rotten?


Poor, beleaguered Sarah is at her wits’ end with her beloved Rotten Ralph when she cannot find a catsitter willing to care for him. Ralph, chagrined and not a little defensive, takes a trip down Memory Lane via a photo album documenting his time as a kitten with his feline family. Convinced that he sees no evidence of rottenness there (though readers may think otherwise if they examine Rubel’s illustrations), he heads back to the family farm to discover how he ended up so rotten. Once there, hilarity ensues as his family (with the exception of his mother) reveals that they weren’t hapless victims in his photographed hijinks. “Did you find out why you are so rotten?” Ralph’s mother asks him before he gratefully heads home to Sarah. “Yes,” he responds. “Because everyone was so rotten to me.” Poor Ralph returns to Sarah a reformed cat and proceeds to clean his room, tidy the house and prepare her a fancy breakfast in bed. However, fans of Ralph’s rotten ways needn’t be concerned about this apparent transformation, as a closing line asserts that he’s grateful not for some internal change, but for the knowledge that Sarah loves him enough that he can do whatever he wants.


Rotten Ralph's Rotten Family.

Gantos, Jack (Author) , Rubel, Nicole (Illustrator)

Mar 2014. 48 p. Farrar, hardcover, $16.99. (9780374363536).

Sarah, disgusted after every cat sitter in town refuses to stay with Rotten Ralph, asks him why he’s so rotten. Ralph wonders too. He misses his doting mother and decides to return to his family, but after he arrives, all his other relatives play mean tricks on him. Mystery solved! There’s plenty to enjoy in this droll, satisfying story, from Ralph’s zany kitten/baby pictures to the unnerving scenes of a reformed Ralph cleaning up his act and his room (“he even cleaned the fish tank without eating the fish”). Expressive, wildly colorful illustrations amplify the humor. Another winner in the Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers series. — Carolyn Phelan

Getting Married/ A Guide For the Bride-To-Be

At last, there is a helpful and hilarious book for sufferers of Nuptial Stress Syndrome--that point during the planning, coordinating, and compromising of a wedding when the bride looses all rationality. A patented cartoon format soothes painful worries and helps restore perspective in as little as 15 minutes.

It Came From the Swamp

When a blow on the head gives Alfie the alligator amnesia, he doesn't know who or where he is and embarks on a series of startling adventures.

PreSchool-Grade 3 The alligators are playing baseball when outfielder Alfie is distracted by a passing snack. Izzy's long ball beans him, knocking him cold. He awakens with amnesia, frightened by the toothy characters standing over him. He takes off with the gang racing after him, out of the swamp, into the suburbs, frightening joggers. He climbs through a window, where Marge, who's lost her glasses, mistakes Alfie for her husband and feeds him breakfast. And that's only the beginning. The comedy of errors roars on to a happy ending with Marge finding her glasses and accident-prone Alfie coming to his senses in a madcap motorcycle mishap.

Back to School for Rotten Ralph

The World most irrepressible cat is back! His best friend Sarah is going back to school. She wants to learn new things and make new friends, and Rotten Ralph will do anything to make sure he's not left behind. If that means he has to wear a disguise and follow her to school, he's happy to do it.  Will Ralph succeed in sabotaging Sarah's attempts to fit in at her new school? And even more importantly, will Rotten Ralph retain his place as Sarah's number one friend?

 hccblogo2.gif (1661 bytes)


ISBN 0-06-027531-6

No School for Penelope Pig

What’s wrong with Penelope Pig? It’s the week before school starts and Penelope keeps catching one weird disease after another! First she comes down with a bad case of the grunts and can’t stop grunting all day. Next, she wakes up covered in colorful spots. Will Penelope get better in time for the first day of swine school? Is she contagious? Will she have to take the yucky medicine the doctor gave her? To find out, look for No School for Penelope Pig in your local library or book store.  ISBN 003-008

Ham and Pickles First Day of School


Children's Literature

Poor Pickles. She is very worried about her first day at school. She frets that her clothes will not look right, that her teacher will detest her (thanks to previous pranks by her big brother, Ham), and that her classmates will think she's dumb—or worse, won't want to be her friend. And what is she to do if she has to go to the bathroom? That's easy, "Jump like a kangaroo, leap like a frog, or hop like a grasshopper, and the teacher will excuse you," says Ham. But Pickles has other worries, too. What if she does not hear her alarm (she sets ten clocks, to be sure), what if she is too short to see over the other kids' heads (Ham tells her that's what books are for), and what if there is no seat on the school bus? Ham assures her this will not be a problem—if she throws a bug, or snake, or lizard on first. Rubel, who is also co-creator and illustrator of the bestselling "Rotten Ralph" series, has done a lovely job with the story and illustrations. Young readers will keenly identify with Pickles' anxious facial expressions—and feel better about facing their own first day at school after reading the happy ending. 2006, Harcourt, Ages 4 to 8.

It's HOT and COLD in Miami

Rachel has theories about a lot of things - how she ended up with humongous beaver teeth, why tourist who visit Miami wear such ugly cloths, and why her father loves her identical twin sister, Rebecca, the most.

Still, there are many things in Rachel's life that even her best theories can't really explain. Why, for instance, does her grandmother insist on feeding her honey cake every Sunday, when everyone knows it tastes disgusting? Why did Rachel end up with the most ancient fifth grade teacher in the school, a woman with amoeba-shaped stains under her arms? And why is Rachel always in trouble, unlike Rebecca?

In humor-filled prose and pictures, Nicole Rubel introduces us to a remarkable off-the-wall family - a father who sells novelty maracas for a living, a mother who is so gorgeous even orangutans fall in love with her, a sister who is perfect genius, and scattered Rachel - struggling to find her unique talent and self-confidence.  ISBN 0-374-33611-3

Three Strikes for Rotten Ralph

January 2011 issue of School Library Journal

Gr 1-3–Rotten Ralph has his future planned out. He’s designed his own baseball card, embellished his uniform with the words Superstar #1, and practiced how he’ll sign autographs and give interviews with the media. He hasn’t worked on his hitting, throwing, or running skills though. After tryouts, Ralph’s owner, Sarah, makes the team, but Ralph is designated the new “cat boy.” His duties include washing socks and sweeping the dugout. During the season, he is given different responsibilities, but his dreams of stardom never materialize. Ralph’s antics on and off the baseball field may seem rotten to some, but he manages to remain a superstar in Sarah’s eyes. There is never a dull moment in this colorful and appealing early reader.–Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada   ISBN 978-0-374-36354-3


Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph

The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph Jack Gantos, illus. by Nicole Rubel. Houghton Mifflin, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-80046-9 -- Publishers Weekly, 4/20/2009

Uh oh. Rotten Ralph is in bigger trouble than ever. After a rough night of “being rotten with his alley cat friends,” he gets some bad news from the vet: he's used up eight of his lives and, per the nine lives chart, “Next Stop: Cat Heaven (Good Cats Only!)” At his owner Sarah's request, a forlorn Ralph recaps (in thought bubbles) how he lost his eight lives, providing a quick tour of his previous eight picture-book misadventures, a reminder of just how uproarious—and timeless—these stories are. Sarah announces that Ralph's rotten days are behind him, vowing to protect her pet: he ends up in a baby buggy, wearing a bonnet. Kids won't expect this to last, and it doesn't. Leaping out the window, he engages in some typical shenanigans (“He ran into the aquarium and grabbed two electric eels. That shocked him back into action”) but, luckily for fans (and his owner), he returns, last life intact. Gantos and Rubel remain in perfect comic sync, as wryly understated text and dynamic art deliver Ralph at his rotten best. Ages 3–7. (May)


Horn Book Review: Jack Gantos The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph; illus. by Nicole Rubel

32 pp. Houghton 5/09 isbn 978-0-618-80046-9 $16.00 (Preschool, Primary) Thirty-three years of rottenness take a toll on a guy. Starting with 1976's Rotten Ralph, Sarah's incorrigible cat has misbehaved his way through eight picture books (plus four early readers). This ninth volume flashes back to those marvelous stories and the unbridled antics therein, which, unfortunately for Ralph, shaved off eight of his lives. Here he awakens with the kitty equivalent of a hangover after a night of carousing. Frightened by his unhealthy-looking reflection in the mirror, he begs Sarah for help, and she takes him to the vet, who delivers a dire diagnosis. "'Your cat has used up eight of his nine lives,' she whispered...'Sadly, I believe his best days are behind him.'" Rubel and Gantos have always been the perfect wicked team, and Rubel's sly caricatured art vividly fills in the details of Ralph's memories as he recounts to Sarah how each life got starved, shaken, carried, and snowballed away in one of the previous picture books. Does this mean Ralph will from now on adhere to Sarah's prescription of an extra-cautious ninth life, spent riding in a baby carriage, downing vitamins, and never going outside to carouse with his alley-cat buddies? Ralph fans know the answer already. c.m.h.

Twice as Nice

TWICE AS NICE has won a 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Book Award and is featured in the 13th edition of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio.



With multiples on the rise, yet the number of good books on the subject scarce, a welcome title for young twins or curious singletons. Rubel, a twin herself and illustrator of the Rotten Ralph series (a pair of Ralph's make a cameo), combines her child-friendly illustrations, photographs, and engaging, witty text to focus on life as a twin, twin facts and anecdotes, and society's reactions to twins. She briefly explains how identical and fraternal twins are formed. Readers will take an interest in celebrity twins through history and the "The Jim Twins," identical brothers who, separated at birth, later discovered amazing similarities. Twins will appreciate the emphasis on individuality, including survival secrets and advice for parents, teachers, and friends of twins. "Can your mother tell you apart?" and "Other Dumb Twin Questions" draw attention to thoughtless questions people sometimes ask and the humorous ways twins want to respond. A must for multiples, the people in their lives, and anyone who wants to learn about this special bound. (sources) (Picture book/non-fiction. 8-11)


From Twins Magazine

Author, illustrator and twin Nicole Rubel has spent her life answering, "What it's like to be a twin" and other common twin questions such as "Can your mother tell you apart?" and "Who was born first?" In this lavishly illustrated volume, curious twins will find answers to many of their own questions, along with interesting tidbits, facts and figures, and short notes about twins through history.  Perfect for teaching and entertaining, Twice as Nice also includes helpful advice for parents, twin riddles and twin survival secrets. For ages 4 to 8.

Rotten Ralph Helps Out

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

Practice Makes Perfect for Rotten Ralph

On the way to visit Ralph's cousin Percy, Sarah and Ralph see a billboard -the carnival is in town!Percy has been practicing games to win prizes, but Ralph thinks practicing is a bore.  He'll win his own way...

No More Vegetables

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2-Ruthie decides that vegetables are gross and stops eating them, much to her family's dismay. Classic arguments abound and include that parental favorite, "we love you and we want you to be healthy," as well as the doctor's excellent threat, "your ears will fall off and your skin will turn blue" (she catches him winking). Her mother compromises and doesn't force mealtime vegetables if the child helps in the garden, which results in the anticipated conclusion. Rubel's trademark ink-and-marker illustrations fill each page with exuberant color and detail. The family pug appears in each scene, and the people sport fabulous wardrobes-on one occasion, Ruthie wears a jumper with poodles gracing the hem and Mom has a blue top with a sailboat, anchor, and fish pattern. This is a good story to share when kids become finicky at mealtime-the humor and satisfactory ending are sure to please. Pair it with Danny Schnitzlein's The Monster Who Ate My Peas (Peachtree, 2001) for a disgusting spin on this topic.

Linda M. Kenton, San Rafael Public Library, CA; Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Grody's Not So Golden Rules

From the School Library Journal

"K-Gr 3- To counter the rules of his parents, sister, teacher, and even the crossing guard, Grody makes up a few of his own, such as "Rule Number One": "Don't get up in the morning. You're just going to have to go to bed again at night!" Best known as the illustrator of Jack Gantos's "Rotten Ralph" series (Houghton), Rubel brings the same kid-friendly sensibilities to the artwork here, incorporating markers, colored pencils, watercolor, fabric, fabric paint, and photographs. An inset on each spread shows the authority figure and rule that the pup is protesting, and the pictures are replete with humorous hyperbole. The point won't be lost on kids when, for example, Grody goes flying through the air because of "Rule Number Nine": "Always run down the stairs instead of walking. It saves time"; or employs his own dish-washing technique in "Rule Number Twelve": "Don't wash dirty dishes when you can lick them clean!" The final spread shows the effects of following the dog's rules, from "very dirty ears" to "unpleasant body odor." A true child-pleaser."

Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

A Cowboy Named Ernestine

In britches and boots, and a broad-brimmed hat to hide her long red hair, Ernestine looks as much like a cowboy as any plucky young lass from Ireland ever could. Along a dusty trail she crosses paths with Texas Teeth, whose grin is brighter than a shooting star. He and his band of rowdy cowhands have got themselves a herd of ornery cows, and they're driving them on to Abilene. Hoping to earn enough for a ticket back home, Ernestine joins the drive. Though she tends to fall off her horse more than a few times a day, she finds she's pretty durn good at lassoing calves. But will her skill be enough to win her the grand prize at the Abilene Roping and Riding Rodeo? Or will her dreams get roped and tied in the bargain?

See the Jan. 22, 2001 Publisher's Weekly review where a star rating review has been awarded!


ERNESTINE is an American Booksellers Association Kids’ Pick of the Lists

A Cowboy Named Ernestine - A Junior Library Guild Selection

Publish date March 2001: Dial/Putnam, ISBN 0-8037-2152-8

Wedding Bells for Rotten Ralph

Sara's high-spirited, poorly behaved cat, Ralph, disrupts her aunt's wedding with his outlandish antics.


ISBN 0-06-027533-2

Rotten Ralph's Halloween Howl

Nothing can scare the world's rottenest cat on Halloween, not even a creaky old haunted house.  Pull back the flaps to see Rotten Ralph's Spook-tacular surprises...and a special Halloween surprise from his friend Sarah.


ISBN 0-694-00985-7

Christmas Spirit Strikes Rotten Ralph

Santa Claus is coming to town and Rotten Ralph is determined to make the purrfect impression. Can the world's naughtiest cat be nice for Christmas?   Pull back the flaps to see Rotten Ralph's hilarious Christmas catastrophes as he and Sarah deck the halls!


ISBN 0-694-00986-5

Rotten Ralph

Sarah loves her cat Ralph even though he is truly rotten. Ralph gets into all sorts of outrageous mischief when Sarah’s family takes him to the circus. He causes so much trouble, that Sarah’s father leaves Ralph behind. Will Ralph find his way back home? Will he stay rotten? To find out, look for Rotten Ralph in your bookstore or library.

Houghton Mifflin  ISBN 0-395-24276-2

Rotten Romance

The world’s rottenest cat celebrates Valentine's Day by rubbing himself with garbage, squishing a stinkbug in his valentine card and filling a box of valentine candy with ants! Rotten Ralph will do almost anything to avoid kisses! This eighth story featuring that irrepressible cat proves, once again, that even though Ralph misbehaves, he will always be Sarah’s favorite valentine.

Houghton Mifflin  ISBN 0-395-73978-0

When Someone in the Family Drinks Too Much

 What is alcoholism? Why is it called a disease? How are families affected by it? In this easy to understand book for young children, Richard Langsen writes about one of the nation's most debilitating diseases. Nicole Rubel's friendly full color illustrations add subtle humor to help ease fears that children may have about this illness.

Dial  ISBN 0-8037-1686-9

Anny and Allie

A new picture book about twins, Anny and Allie by Nicole Rubel will be out Spring 2019 - published by Morgan James Publishing Company.