School is so much harder when you are dealing with a Snurtch. Can Ruthie conquer this monster who makes it look like she is doing bad things?
by Sean Ferrell; pictures by Charles Santoso
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016
Picture book, fiction
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 x 25 cm
Interest level: K-3; reading level: 1.9
3 out of 5 stars
Our main character is Ruthie, a young girl with wide eyes and two pigtails on top of her head. We see Ruthie as she is going to school and learn that she has a problem at school, and that problem is named the Snurtch.
Snurtch is a monster that torments Ruthie throughout the day and makes it look like she is doing bad things. He throws her pencils, makes rude noises, and crumples up her classmates drawings. Unfortunately, everyone always assumes that Ruthie is the one doing these awful things. Charles Santoso’s illustrations are the perfect fit for the tone of the story. He combines pencil drawings with digital coloring to create the solid figures of the students. These figures are then drawn over with renderings of the Snurtch, to show how he takes over the character of Ruthie.
Until one day in art class, Ruthie creates a drawing of the Snurtch. When she shares it with her classmates, they recognize the Snurtch and tell Ruthie her drawing is very good. Ruthie feels better after receiving the compliments and learns how to control the Snurtch. She even recognizes that other classmates have Snurtches too.
The story has more serious themes of students not being able to handle their emotions and actions, and the idea that understanding and kindness can help people cope with uncomfortable situations. However, I believe that these concepts will be lost on younger readers. They will love the idea of monster-like creatures making you act badly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means that the book can be enjoyed on several different levels.