Author: Carol Gordon Ekster
Illustrator: Kimberly Soderberg
Year published: 2011
Publisher: Character Publishing
Number of pages: 29
Recommended age: 6-8
Daughter Rating: ★★★☆☆
Grown-up Rating: ★★★☆☆
Reviewed by: Laura and Ella (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from Amazon): Ruth the Sleuth and the Messy Room is a children’s picutre book about a messy little girl who has misplaced her mother’s potholder. She must find it in ten minutes in order to have cookies and play with her friend Zack. Includes a parent guide to raising organized children and a checklist game to help kids learn to clean their rooms.
What it’s about: Ruth the Sleuth is about a girl named Ruth trying to find a potholder. She couldn’t find it but then at last she found it.
What I liked and disliked about it: I liked the story and I liked Ruth. I like how Ruth the Sleuth found a bunch of other things. The pictures were good.
My bottom line: I think other girls my age would also like this book.
What it’s about: Ruth the Sleuth is a story about a girl who has a very messy bedroom. Ruth’s Mom asks her to find a potholder before a batch of cookies needs to be taken out of the oven. In the process of searching for the potholder, Ruth discovers many objects she has not seen in a long time.
What I liked and disliked about it: What I liked most was that after she read Ruth the Sleuth, my 9 year old did the very best cleaning job of her room, ever! I asked her if it was because she was inspired by Ruth and she said it was actually because she had read “A Parent’s Guide to Growing Organized Kids” which is found at the back of the book. This was not something I had anticipated! I think what Jill got from it was great, but did note that her actions didn’t come from the story itself. (Incidentally, I asked her what she would rate the book and she also said 3/5 stars).
The general framework of this story is good. I very much appreciate the author’s intent too. The guide at the back of the book was interesting and I’m sure some parents (and big kids) would find it very useful.
What confused me about the book is that Ruth doesn’t learn a lesson about her way of doing things. Ultimately, she successfully finds her mother’s potholder in the nick of time and there really aren’t any meaningful consequences for her lack of organization. In fact, she happily discovers many lost things along the way, so the problem of her messy room is really an exciting adventure. Where is her motivation to change? The story seems to send a mixed message. There was one incident where Ruth was poked by something sharp, but the story goes on to say “A little scrape wouldn’t stop Ruth!” Then she gets a splinter in her finger but that doesn’t necessarily seem related to having too-stuffed drawers.
There is a recipe at the back of the book. It’s a nice touch, but it strikes me as misplaced. The story is about disorganization, not baking. The cookies are certainly mentioned in the story, (and the reason the potholder is needed) but actually making them was not part of the plot. Eric Carle’s “Pancakes, Pancakes” is a great example of including a recipe with a story. Further, this seems to be a page where there are a few editing errors (e.g., extra commas, spelling, etc.).
Ruth randomly mentions other people and situations which was a bit confusing to me. “Wasn’t I the one who always found Mr. Zucker’s reading glasses? Didn’t I find Madison’s lunch card when no one else could?” Who??
The illustrations are fine.
My bottom line: The bottom line for me is that this story is OK. Because the author thoughtfully includes some ideas for parents and kids at the back I give it a 3/5. I think it could be used to initiate conversations about organization which I believe is the author’s intent. The story seems geared towards 6 to 8 year-old girls.
** Ruth the Sleuth and the Messy Room by Carol Gordon Ekster was provided free-of-charge by the author. **
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