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