The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau and Matt Myers

Hi, Kara LaReau! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. Thank you for being the first guest of 2017. I’m grateful you dropped by to celebrate books and finish my sentences.

Kara LaReau: Greetings to the Infamous Mr. Schu! Thanks so much for inviting me!

Bikers for Books is a group of amazing guys and gals who come together to raise reading awareness. Just like The Infamous Ratsos, the B4B gang might look a little bit tough and gruff on the outside, but they all have hearts of gold. I’m so thrilled they liked the book — they not only appreciate its message of kindness, they live it every day!

I think Louie and Ralphie Ratso would LOVE hanging out with Bikers for Books. I think it’s important for kids (especially boys) to see examples of men who aren’t afraid to be sensitive and thoughtful and tender. I’ve never been a fan of gender norms; now that I have a son, I’m even more eager to do what I can to dispel them!

Illustration Credit: Matt Myers
Did you know The Infamous Ratsos is based on my own family? My grandfather’s name was Ralph and his older brother’s name was Louie. They grew up during the Great Depression, and their father was really, really tough. He died when they were pretty young, so the boys were on their own a lot, and they ended up earning a reputation as “troublemakers.” I was never told exactly what kind of trouble they got into; The Infamous Ratsos is my way of imagining their, er, shenanigans.
Illustration Credit: Matt Myers

Matt Myers’ illustrations are a perfect combination of funny and sweet. I don’t know how he does it! The details he’s included give the experience of reading the book an extra, extra-special level of enjoyment. I swear I find something new every time I look at it. (Matt, if you are reading this, thank you again. You are a genius.)

Click here to download a discussion guide. 
Reading is a way of stepping into someone else’s shoes. I’m all about trying to present stories from different perspectives; in the case of The Infamous Ratsos, it’s from the point of view of two boys who are on the road to becoming bullies…until their lives (fortunately!) take a turn in the right direction. I think it’s important for kids (of all ages) to read about characters who make bad choices, so they can learn from them without making those bad choices themselves!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what I’m working on now. I’ve just seen Matt’s (amazing) revised sketches of the next Infamous Ratsos story, The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid (just as the first book was about toughness, this one is about fear and courage). Also, I have a middle grade novel (my first!) coming out on January 10th; it’s called The Jolly Regina, and it’s the first in a trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters. I’m just seeing the first round of sketches for Book Two, illustrated by another genius artist, Jen Hill. I’m working on Book Three now.

Whew! Thanks so much for letting me take a little break to visit with you!

Thank you, Kara! Happy New Year! 

Borrow The Infamous Ratsos from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Curiosity City DPW is giving away 24 copies of The Infamous Ratsos. Click here to enter the drawing. 


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