Naughty For Good is book one in the new Ratbags series, written by Tim Harris and illustrated by Shiloh Gordon, which features Jigsaw the rat (that’s him in the middle of the front cover).
Jigsaw is unusual compared to the other rats. He likes to be good (he doesn’t chew through cables or make a mess) and he likes humans (more than likes them, actually).
The other rats definitely don’t like humans and do like making trouble. They’re ratbags.
When Jigsaw bumps into Ripple and Onion he discovers just how different from the other rats he is.
The ratbags pressure Jigsaw to behave badly like them, and put him in a difficult position. A confused Jigsaw breaks the rules in spite of himself. Yummy pizza is a big temptation, and so is having friends, but being a rule breaker stresses poor Jigsaw out. Will he succumb and become a ratbag, or will he learn how to be a friend without being a troublemaker? You might be surprised at Jigsaw’s clever plan.
Naughty For Good does have rats behaving badly, and there’s a bit of toilet humour, which is bound to appeal to the target readership. However, in an interview, the creators of Ratbags pointed out that although the story is about naughty rats, it’s got important messages including that ‘we can be friends with other people, no matter what our belief system or no matter how different we are to them….[and] there’s also a message about peer pressure, and staying true to who you are.’
The Ratbags series is a graphic novel style. There’s minimal text and lots of pictures, which makes it perfect for beginner and newly independent readers. The rats have incredibly expressive faces which helps to bring their personalities to life (check out Shiloh Gordon‘s Instagram and you’ll see what I mean).
Dynamic and funny. Put Ratbags in front of your younger readers and they’ll be hooked.
Read an interview with Tim Harris and Shiloh Gordon on the publisher’s website.
Title: Ratbags: Naughty For Good
Author: Tim Harris
Illustrator: Shiloh Gordon
Publisher: Puffin, $14.99
Publication Date: February 2023
For ages: 6+
Type: Graphic novel