Title: Rot The Bravest in the World!
Author/Illustrator: Ben Clanton
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020
Ages 4 - 8
Themes: Potatoes, Courage, Play, Sibling, Teasing, Fear
These are mutant potatoes. They love mud. Cannonball!
Mutant potatoes love mud. Rot has even written a song about it. When he sees the most magnificent mud pit ever (So much more alliteration where that line came from), he's about to jump in, but before he does, his brother, Snot, yells to watch out for the Squirm. Rot must decide if he will be courageous and face the Squirm or go without playing in such a magnificent mud puddle.
Why I love this book:
It's really cute, and sweet, and it's about gathering your courage to do something that scares you. Yes, I said that Rot is cute. He is the Cutest and that has not changed since the first book.
I recently had the opportunity to take a class with Ben on creating characters. He keeps a notebook with him at all times and draws or doodles whenever an idea strikes. He also spends a lot of time getting to know his characters. He said that Rot kept showing up and interrupting another idea he was working on.
As Ben talked about getting to know a character he talked about emotions and how emotions show in the whole body. Just look at the emotions on Rot. Everything shows you he's worried or scared.
From the eyes and eyebrows, the hands and mouth to the squiggly line of the speech bubble.
All of that emotion in a deceptively simple drawing.
Ben also mentioned that he likes to add a special element to all of his books.
For the Rot books, he made the speech bubbles with potato stamps.
There's a bit of a Don Quixote feel to this story as Rot figures out how to move forward through his fear.
Rot's ability to see his courageous self helps him move forward. This is a lesson that we could all use now and again.
Be brave and play with Rot.
Check out Rot's undies. Not his underpants, silly. The cover under the book's dust jacket.
Resources and Activities:
Spend some time squishing in the mud. Around here you might want to bring some inside and let it warm up before you play. Let it get between your fingers and toes. It will all wash off.
Make a potato character of your own. What would you name it? What are the characters favorite things? What is it afraid of? How would your potato deal with fear. How would your potato deal with sibling teasing?
Make a potato stamp, use some paint and make a picture.
Follow Ben on Instagram.
You'll find coloring pages on his website. Ben loves to get mail. Click on his about page to for his address so you can send him a letter. If you haven't read It Came in the Mail, you should check that one out too.
Spend some time with Ben, Emily Arrow, and the Narwhalidays
You can purchase the book and support independent bookstores through this link.
Check out Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday Blog post each week to learn about more cool books to read with your kids and add to your collection.