It’s that haunting time of year again, and our friend, the talented and impressive Kara LaReau, is back to share about what it means to be brave. Kara is not only a gifted writer, but a brilliant editor as well. (See her bio below.) Kara is generously donating an autographed book for the comment contest. At the bottom of the post, click on the small word: comments. Scroll down until you come to the comment box and leave a comment for us about what you were most afraid of as a child, or a time when you were brave, or a favorite Halloween memory. We’d love to hear from you even if it’s just to say you’d like to win the book. The winner of last week’s contest is announced at the end of the post.
Writing from the Inside Out. . . by Kara LaReau
I think about bravery a lot, and how I can be a more courageous person, in my writing and in the world. So it’s no surprise that my newest book is called THE INFAMOUS RATSOS ARE NOT AFRAID.
Of course, being brave isn’t just about venturing into a house that may (or may not!) be haunted, like Louie Ratso does in the story, or overcoming a fear of spiders, like the Ratso brothers’ father, Big Lou — it can also be about doing what feels right and true to yourself, even when it’s hard. Ralphie Ratso learns this lesson when a rumor starts at school about him liking an unpopular girl. It turns out — spoiler alert! — the girl is unpopular because of another rumor, one that Ralphie started a long time ago, which he meant as a joke.
I can totally relate to Ralphie; to deflect from some childhood bullying and some of my own insecurities as a kid, I developed a snarky attitude. I’d do just about anything to make people laugh, and that sometimes came at the expense of others. Even on the occasions where I was called on it, I just shrugged it off, and blamed the butts of my jokes for being hyper-sensitive or humorless.
Now that I’m an adult and a little bit more self-aware, I recognize that behavior as toxic. I try to practice more compassion. And I’ve come to realize that while a little bit of snarky attitude is fine, most people prefer it when I’m being my honest self; allowing ourselves to be open and vulnerable is another form of bravery, one that we need more than ever these days.
|Interior text and art|
Eventually, Ralphie does the right (and brave) thing and apologizes, and in the process, he makes a new friend — a skunk named Millicent, who’s become one of my favorite characters, especially given how illustrator Matt Myers has brought her to life. I hope you’ll love her, too, as I have big plans for her in future stories. And of course, I hope that when kids read THE INFAMOUS RATSOS series, they’ll learn from Louie and Ralphie’s mistakes. They are often my mistakes, too.
★”Another tale for fledgling chapter-book readers that highlights the profound value of kindness to others.” (Booklist, starred review)
“Readers will be following right alongside these two likable rats as Ralphie confronts his past misdeeds and Louie screws his courage to the sticking post….Charming.” (Kirkus)
INFAMOUS RATSOS ARE NOT AFRAID. Text copyright © 2017 by Kara Lareau. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Matt Myers. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. Among other celebrated titles, she edited Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and the Mercy Watson series. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH and OTTO: The Boy Who Loved Cars, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové; a chapter book series called The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, illustrated by Jen Hill. Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.
(Please email me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and to whom you’d like the book inscribed.)
Thank you, Kelly for sharing your wisdom and insights with us and for your generosity. And thank you, dear readers, for your extraordinary comments!
I’ll be back on Halloween to announce the winner of The Infamous Ratsos are Not Afraid. ~Clara