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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes

Reviewed: February 6, 2004
By: Margaret Atwood /illustrations by Dusan Petricic
Publisher: Key Porter Kids
30 pages, $19.95

As the title might suggest to you, this book has something of a gimmick to it. Perhaps the first paragraph will make it clear.

“Rude Ramsay resided in a ramshackle rectangular residence with a roof garden, a root cellar, and a revolving door. A rampart ranged down the right hand side of the run-down real estate.”

This is Atwood’s fifth venture into children’s territory and, while the results are amusing enough, a literate writer should know enough to realize that “alliterate until you plotz” is not necessarily the best way to construct a story. While it’s cute enough in “Peter Piper” sized bites, the extreme amount of alliteration required in this rectangular receptacle is likely to tax even the most rambunctious reader, and is certainly sufficient to cause this tale to fall on its ‘R’s”.

Let’s see, you know about Ramsay, who is saddled with three revolting relatives in not so genteel poverty. One day, escaping their robust wrath, Ramsay escapes under the rampart with his only friend, Ralph, a red-nosed rat. On the other side they find the roaring radishes and Rillah, a lonely little girl who needs a friend. They have some alliterative adventures and work out new living arrangements which suit them both very well. 

Meanwhile all that alliteration seems to have affected the proofreader of Rude Ramsay. On page 16 (by my count, anyway) Ramsay and Ralph’s names get mixed up when they first meet Rillah. It’s confusing until you realize what must have happened.

Rude Ramsay isn’t a bad book, but it’s a bit of a conceit, and I suspect an editor might have been a bit more scrupulous with a less storied scribbler.

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