Monday, October 17, 2016

The Monster Within: The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell

Ruthie has a problem in school. It's not the students. It's not the classroom. It's not the reading, or the writing, or the arithmetic!

It's the Snurtch!

The Snurtch is lots of things. Nice is NOT one of them.

He's scribbly and scrunchy, grabby and burpy, and rude.

Ever since Maurice Sendak showed us where the wild things are, that is, right inside ourselves, we've known that our worst selves sometimes get the best of our best selves, and that's what happens to Ruthie at school.

The Snurtch is the shaggy, scribble of an orange-crayoned monster that won't let Ruthie sit down at her desk. He's the inner meany who makes her throw her pencil, and the crude critter than creates the rude noises and crumples up George's drawing when he tries to share. The Snurtch rides on her shoulders, even when she is sent to do timeout in the corner.

Ten minutes later, Ruthie tries to draw something pretty, or cute, or happy, but all that comes out of that crayon is unhappy scribbles.

How do you get a Snurtch off your back?

How can Ruthie put her Snurtch in his place?

Luckily for Ruthie, when she apologizes and shares her drawing of the Snurtch, all the kids in her class recognize him immediately.

"It's what throws our pencils! It's what makes weird noises! It's what drew on my drawing!" they all say.

Ruthie realizes that she's not alone.

Suddenly, Ruthie sees all the kids have their own scruffy, selfish Snurtches too, in Sean Ferrell's The Snurtch (Atheneum Books, 2016). How to manage the devil who makes you do it, to master that selfish old id inside, is part of growing up, and Ruthie is on her way in this reassuring story of self-understanding and impulse management. Artist Charles Santoso draws Ruthie just right, as a beetle-browed little girl whose very braids are too tight and a little out of control, her scowl betraying the battle within. Kirkus Reviews gives this one a starred review and recommends that a copy of this book should sit on every book shelf--"the high one, just above a Snurtch's reach," and Booklist says, "kids will identify with having a fidgety, mischievous monster inside."

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