The Infamous Ratsos

The Infamous Ratsos
Written by Kara LaReau, Illustrated by Matt Myers

Publisher’s Summary:
Louie and Ralphie’s dad, Big Lou, always says that there are two kinds of people: those who are tough and those who are soft. Louie and Ralphie are tough, tough, tough, just like Big Lou, and they’re going to prove it. But every time they try to show just how tough they are, the Ratso brothers end up accidentally doing good deeds instead. Perfect for emerging and reluctant readers, this clever and surprisingly warmhearted chapter-book series shows that being tough all the time can be really tough!

Primary Source Pairing:
“Life is tough enough. We might as well try to make it easier for one another, whenever we can,” Big Lou says (page 55). Louie and Ralphie are tough and not soft. In this gem of a book, follow the journey of the Ratsos brothers as they try to do tough stuff that never really works out. Use the illustrations in the book as the primary source material for analysis. Illustrator Matt Myers has an easily overlooked picture storyline that begins at the front of the book and ends on the last page. Keep your eye on that flower pot and the brothers’ water balloon. Invite students to take a close look at the illustrations and note how the brothers change over the story. Encourage students to brainstorm ways they can be helpful like Big Lou, Louie, and Ralphie are at the end of the book.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Look closely at the illustrations.
  • Find a small detail that connects to the story.
  • What do Louie and Ralphie look like at the beginning of the story?
  • How do they look different at the end of the story?
  • How do the illustrations help you understand the story?
  • What is happening with the flower pot and water balloon? Are Louie and Ralphie pulling off something that makes them look tough or does it turn out to be a good deed?
  • What is your favorite part of the book? Why?
  • Which illustration is your favorite? Why?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
The Infamous Ratsos illustration: Amazon