A message about what it means to be ‘strong’ and the importance of being nice was at the heart of Literati’s most-kept book for 7-9 year-olds.
The Infamous Ratsos, an early chapter book with powerful characters that explores masculinity and male heroes, was Literati’s most-kept book in Club Sage (for 7-9 year-olds) in February, with 74% of members deciding to keep hold of it. In the book by Kara LaReau, which was sent to members as part of Literati’s ‘In My Heart’ themed curation, the Ratso brothers want to be tough like their father, but soon discover that being strong doesn’t involve being mean.
Jessica Ewing, Literati’s CEO, describes it as a book about male sweetness in disguise. “Sometimes we mask our inner ‘good side’ with sarcasm or cynicism or toughness. But when you see characters trying to cover up their good side in a sneaky way – like the Ratso brothers do – that’s exceedingly charming.”
Children’s literature expert Dr. Mark West, at the University of North Carolina, says the two main characters tap into the notion that when boys get older they feel that emotion makes them vulnerable. “They don’t feel as if they’re able to express the more tender side of their emotions; they can’t talk to each other or express concern. And on some level that does isolate you.
Boys don’t feel as if they’re able to express the more tender side of their emotions.
“But,” he says, “It makes you wonder if the two brothers who seemingly do accidentally good deeds are in fact providing cover for themselves. You can’t accidentally do that many good deeds without being aware of it.”