Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Wodney bears the brunt of his classmates' teasing because he has a speech impediment. To make matters worse, along comes bigger, meaner and smarter Camilla Capybara, a truly dreadful bully. When Wodney is chosen to lead a game of Simon Says, know-it-all Camilla follows his directions exactly as he says them. Instead of overcoming his shortcoming, Wodney (a.k.a. "Rodney") successfully uses it to get rid of the bully and he becomes the hero. The reader sees Wodney gradually getting the upper hand in both the text and illustrations. Munsinger's expressive rodents amplify the tale. This author-illustrator team really knows how to use humor to get across their message. Children and adults alike will give a cheer for this underdog.
PreS-Gr 2-Poor Rodney Rat is teased mercilessly by all the other rodents because he can't pronounce his R's in this beginning to read title by Helen Lester (Houghton, 1999). When Camilla Capybara joins the class and announces that she is bigger, meaner, and smarter than any of the other rodents, everyone is afraid, especially Wodney. One day he unwittingly catches Camilla out in a game of Simon Says, and surprises himself and saves his classmates from big bully Camilla. This retelling nicely reflects Wodney's transformation from shy rodent with a speech impediment to hero of the class. Narration is accompanied by synthesized music and some sound effects. Side one includes page-turning signals (that sound like a small rodent being squeezed), while side two contains an uninterrupted reading. This book and tape set will be popular in school and public libraries.-Shauna Yusko, King County Library System, Bellevue, WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-An underdog who can't say his "r"s suffers unmerciful teasing until he saves his classmates from Camilla Capybara, who announces and then proves that she is bigger, meaner, and smarter than anyone else in the class. However, when Camilla is not quite observant enough to detect Rodney's speech impediment, a game of Simon Says becomes her downfall. As leader, the young rat squeaks "Wodney says go west," and instead of resting, Camilla stomps off to the west never to return, making Rodney an instant hero. Munsinger's watercolor with pen-and-ink illustrations positively bristle with humor and each rat, mouse, hamster, and capybara is fully realized as both rodent and child. Children will empathize with Rodney as he hides his head in his jacket and eats lunch all alone. Bullies may not want to recognize themselves in Camilla but the battle cry "bigger...meaner...smarter" is hard to deny. Hooway is wight...er, right. Wodney Wat is wonderful.-Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
This author-artist team's latest foray into celebrations of differences (Tacky the Penguin, etc.) brings us Rodney Rat, a small rodent who can't pronounce his rs. His classmates' taunting has turned "Wodney" into the shyest, most miserable kid in school. "His squeak could barely be heard in class. He gnawed his lunch alone. And while the other rodents scurried and scooted about at recess, Wodney hid inside his jacket." Along comes salvation in the unlikely form of a new rodent, the mean and disruptive bully Camilla Capybara. Because she doesn't know about Wodney's speech impediment, she takes his orders in "Simon Says" literally, weeding instead of reading, waking leaves instead of raking them, and, crucially, going west instead of taking a rest. Having vanquished Camilla, Wodney is now a hero. Wodney's transformation is beautifully underscored in Munsinger's humorous, expressive illustrations: he gradually changes from hunched-over and cowering to tall and empowered, shouting instructions "in a voice so strong he had to hold his own ears." It's particularly nice that Wodney doesn't have to overcome his speech impediment to be liked; in fact, it's the impediment itself and Wodney's clever use of it that foils the villain and earns his classmates' admiration.
From the Publisher
"The team responsible for the Tacky the Penguin books and Princess Penelope's Parrot (1996), among others, is in rare form in this picture book, in which a swell little guy proves himself a hero to his tormentors. Wodney Wat has a problem: he can't pronounce the letter r, which makes him the butt of constant jokes and teasing. He's so distressed, in fact, that he routinely buries his head in his jacket--the closest he can come to actually disappearing. He thinks he's really in for it when "big, mean, smart" Camilla Capybara appears in Miss Fuzzleworth's classroom. But the tables are deftly turned when Wodney is tapped to lead a game of Simon Says: when he says "Go West" after a tough round of play, guess who does. Munsinger's well-detailed illustrations are superbly funny, a perfect complement to a comical story that will not only make kids laugh but also hearten those who feel they'll be outsiders forever." Booklist, ALA
"Rodney Rat, who can't pronounce his R's, is the shyest, most miserable kid in school, until one day he saves his classmates from the mean bully Camilla Capybara. Wodney's transformation from cowering to empowered is beautifully underscored in the humorous, expressive illustrations. Appealingly, Wodney doesn't need to overcome his impediment to be liked--and it's the impediment itself and Wodney's clever use of it that foils the villain." Horn Book
A shy rodent turns his defect into strength to overcome class bully and save the day. Every page is a delight in this imaginative book, which culminates in surprising word play. Energetic illustrations capture perfectly the characters of timid Rodney, the overbearing Camilla Capybara, and their rowdy rodent classmates.
Parent's Choice (R)