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 “I was born on April Fools’ Day, but I

celebrate my birthday every day of the year.”



To celebrate Ralph's birthday -- I've combined my love of libraries and Rotten Ralph and created an Art Show! It's called the Rotten Ralph Art Show. Currently, the Rotten Ralph Art Show is touring public libraries in Oregon. The Rotten Ralph Art Show is available across the United States.  Public or school libraries can write me at to host the art show. Libraries are responsible for the cost of shipping the art show safely to and from my home or the next library and must have a large locked glass case. The shipping is less than $20. each way.

To create the Rotten Ralph Art Show, I've gathered original watercolors of Rotten Ralph, the Ralph doll, rare black and white photographs of Jack Gantos and me presenting Ralph to schools dressed as Ralph and Sarah, and other fabulous finds.

Best wishes,

Nicole Rubel


Directions for installing the Rotten Ralph art show


Each 4 by 6 card is numbered on the back and matches the number on the back of an object or artwork in the show. Please place the card in front of the artwork or object on the library shelf. Pull out the cardboard tab on the back of the flat pieces to help them stand. Enclosed is a DVD of Nicole Rubel celebrating Rotten Ralph’s birthday making a rotten cake. Also enclosed is a giant red paw for draping over the glass case. I would be pleased and honored if you take a photo of the art show in your library and send it to me.


Display as much as you like of the show.

Thank-you, Nicole Rubel.


Title card and theme of art show:


Card #1

The Rotten Ralph Art Show

Nicole Rubel and Jack Gantos would like to celebrate Rotten Ralph’s birthday. The wily red cat is thirty years old. There are seventeen Rotten Ralph books in print written by Jack Gantos and illustrated by Nicole Rubel, with three more coming. Happy Birthday Rotten Ralph! Meow!!


Card #2

The Rotten Ralph plush toy was created in 1987. It was sold by the Houghton Mifflin Company. This toy is a collector’s item.


Card #3

“Perhaps you could be suffering from a strange spotted alley disease.” Early black and white illustration of Rotten Ralph submitted by Nicole Rubel to Houghton Mifflin Co. Jack Gantos original text was made on a typewriter.


Card #4

“When Sarah practices ballet Ralph makes fun of her.”

This watercolor was made in 1975 for the original book, Rotten Ralph.

The actual artwork used for the published book was hand color separated by Nicole. Today there is no need for this with modern printing methods. (You may wish to open one of the books to match the paintings.)


Card #5

“You better straighten up, Ralph,” said Father.

“You are a very difficult cat, Ralph,” said Sarah.

This watercolor was created for the original Rotten Ralph.


Card #6

 Rotten Ralph has been translated into many languages around the world.


Card #7

Jack Gantos and Nicole Rubel holding Carew the cat. Carew was the rotten inspiration for the Rotten Ralph character that Jack and Nicole developed together. (1976 Photographer unknown.)


Card #8

Early photograph of Jack Gantos dressed as Rotten Ralph and Nicole Rubel as Sarah. They are helping children learn how to draw Rotten Ralph. (Kenneth F. McLean is the photographer, 1978.)


Card #9

Early photograph of Nicole and Jack with Carew the cat. The poster in the background is advertising Worse than Rotten Ralph, the second book in the series.


Card #10

Jacket painting by Nicole Rubel for Worse than Rotten Ralph. This book was also color separated by hand.


Card #11

Nicole Rubel’s chart for color separations. She learned how to do this when her editor, Walter Lorraine, showed her on a cocktail napkin at a lunch in Boston.


Card #12

“Happy birthday,” said Sarah. “Now, no snooping until your party.”

Rotten Ralph made an ugly face and squirted toothpaste into Sarah’s slippers.

Original artwork done in Ad Markers on marker paper from Happy Birthday Rotten Ralph, published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1990.The artwork is full color and no longer separated by hand.


Card #13

Book dummy and book for The Christmas Spirit Strikes Rotten Ralph, published by HarperFestival in 1998. This book was printed in full color and has fold out pages. (If you wish, please open both book and book dummy to the same page.)


Card #14

“I’m stuffed, Ralph groaned. He picked his teeth and burped so loudly, the dogs began to howl. Calm down, Ralph thought. I’m born to eat trash.”

Full color artwork from Rotten Ralph feels Rotten, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. This book is part of the Rotten Ralph Rotten Reader series.


Card #15

“Then Sarah gave him a hug.”

Original artwork done in Ad Markers on marker paper from Rotten Ralph feels Rotten, 2004.


Card #16

Rotten Ralph Greeting cards produced by Peaceable Kingdom 2006.


Card #17

In 1990, Rotten Ralph became an animated T.V. series produced by the BBC in Britain. It lasted two seasons in the U.S. on the Fox Family channel.


Card #18

More fun and cool information on Nicole Rubel and Jack Gantos can be found on their web sites at