Year One Re-post #6: Roscoe Riley Rules

Originally published in November 2013. One of today’s most accomplished and talented writers tackles chapter books with funny bone firmly in place.  I constantly hear the lament, “There’s very little for boys to read.” I say, Thank goodness for Roscoe!


By Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Brian Biggs


Published by: HarperCollins (May 27, 2008)

Available in: paperback, library binding, Kindle, NOOK, audiocassette, audible audio edition

At the time of this review, there were seven books in the Roscoe Riley Rules series.


Mr. Mischief Man.

Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs is one prank after the next, most unintended as mischief. He just has so many rules to remember and, well, it’s hard.

But not hard on the reader. This book, as in all the books in the series, eases kids into the core of the book with exceptionally short chapters at the front. By the time chapters are more than a page or two, it’s already chapter 4. Since Roscoe is in first grade and this is a shorter, easier chapter book, this is perfect for those just attempting the chapter book experience.

And Roscoe is an easy book-friend to make. He speaks directly to the reader, inviting kids on his journey without the threat of suffering his punishment. Which is a given. He will—and does—wind up in time out. But the journey is a glorious romp through misdirected help and maybe a few steps in the I know I shouldn’t but I just can’t help myself direction. Huge fun.

The use of a little sister and big brother for Roscoe also bring a few key elements into the story, allowing Roscoe to prove himself both more and less knowledgeable, depending on the need. He is firmly placed in family life and, although he takes himself out on a limb, he doesn’t hang in the world alone. He signifies a reality that kids can relate to while also allowing them more mischief than they dare in real life. Roscoe is a study in comedic drama for the young set.

Applegate, whose elegant middle grade novel The One and Only Ivan won the Newberry Medal for 2013, displays her serious writing chops in a playful, unencumbered comedy that is nothing but a treat.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

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