Review By Kelly Carey
Whether you are 5 or 50, we all have a Snurtch that we must contend with and control. In Sean Ferrell’s THE SNURTCH, Ruthie is struggling to manage her Snurtch, a wonderful personification of her bad temper and poor behavior. Ruthie’s Snurtch causes big trouble at school...trouble for which Ruthie takes the blame.
Ferrell’s book offers a platform for discussing those moments when we are not at our best. It is much easier to assess our own actions if we can blame our poor choices on a Snurtch, an ever present goblin of sorts that causes trouble. Ruthie’s Snurtch pulls her hair and makes her grumpy. He makes her run in the classroom and push her classmates. When she burps back at the Snurtch or returns his tongue out face, Ruthie ends up alone on the playground or relegated to the teacher’s time-out chair.
Who can’t relate to being blamed for something you didn’t do? The Snurtch did it!
But as Ruthie looks hard at the Snurtch, Ferrell finds a unique plot twist to show that Ruthie is ready to claim responsibility for the Snurtch. Ruthie transforms the Snurtch from a scapegoat for her misdeeds to a safe way to say “I’m sorry.”
THE SNURTCH is a wonderful, whimsical, and humorous character, conjured up with the same care as the imaginary bunny Harvey who landed Jimmy Steward in a looney bin – lucky for Ruthie, she found a way not only to own her Snurtch, but she found classmates who have Snurtch issues of their own.
Ferrell has taken a universal childhood problem – managing our behavior and impulses – and wrapped this complex problem up in simple straightforward text. His plot is complex, which keeps the pages turning and the story interesting – but the easy flowing text meets the readers at just the right level.
What could be simpler and yet more provoking than an opening line that reads “Ruthie has a problem at school”?
What I find most intriguing about this book is the wonderful marriage between the author’s words and the illustrations. While the book is illustrated with Ruthie and her classmates in fun and realistic artwork, the troublesome Snurtch is a crayon scribble that interacts with the other drawings like the cartoon Roger Rabbit walking amidst live action scenes and actors. The result is a clever visual representation of how the enigma of our mood and behavior can have a drastic effect on our everyday life.
Read Ferrell’s wonderful picture book, and get a grip on your Snurtch.
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