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Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare

Page history last edited by MAURICIO SUAREZ 10 years, 7 months ago



Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare



Plot Summary

Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare is a humoristic follow up story to My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, both narrated and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. The story is based on the author's real life story, since she did have a redheaded older brother named Richie who was a hockey player, and she loved ballet. They would always argue on whose hobby was more challenging and enjoyable. As any pair of siblings, Richie and Trisha (Polacco's fictional character), would always argue and dispute in who is better at what, and dare each other. Richie would always get into his sister's business for true enjoyment and Trisha would get mad and annoyed.

Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare tells the story of one of those true-life dares. Richie, the hockey player, and Trisha, the ballerina, are left to find that their sports have a lot in common and are more challenging than they think. They dare each other to get in each other's shoes for one recital and one hockey game and get through it. But does the ballerina get through the hockey game where she is left on the ice with big mean boys? Does the hockey player learn how to do Demi-PliƩs in order to succeed at the recital? The story uses humor and amusement to showcase each child's effort to show off their abilities.




Textual Elements

Plot: Richie and Trisha are rival brother and sister who are always picking and challenging on each other in order to show off. One is a hockey player and the other one is a ballerina, but which sport is better? Which one requires more strength? One day during recess at their elementary school, the dare was brought up: Trisha "triple dog dared... with skin-do's and two ups" that Richie could not even stand up at her ballet recital. Richie, not holding back accepted, and dared Trisha that she could not make it through a hockey game and a well of practice with the team. The climax of the story builds up as both of the siblings are left to stage on each other's arena to find out how much in common hockey and ballet really are. 


Setting and Characters: The story takes place at an elementary school in Battle Creek, Michigan. The family had just moved from a farm in Union City, MI, to adapt to a new lifestyle. The main characters are Trisha and Richie, a brother and sister who are extraordinarily good at their extracurricular activities. 


Point of view & Theme: Narrated from Trisha's point of view, Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare covers a theme that any siblings in the real world go through: who is better? The book leaves readers with the lesson of not to judge a book by its cover, or you cannot judge someone until you have been on their shoes. The children learn that as easy or as hard they think the other's hobby is, they cannot judge until they have had the experience. The story, told with humor and amusement, teaches that it takes a lot of resistance and mental strength to play hockey, and endurance and synchronization to dance at a ballet recital.







Artistic Elements 

Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare is a picture book, both narrated and illustrated by famous children's author Patricia Polacco. The illustrations are made with vivid color reinforcing the humor and the intensity of the character's attitude towards what they love. The author uses water colored- characters to illustrate the story, adding to the humoristic side of the tale. The pictures are big and vibrant, leaving small space for text, but at the same time contributing the intensity of the narration. 


One important aspect of the picture book is the addition of real life pictures at the beginning and the end of the book of Polacco's story when the tale took place. Comics of the story's characters sustain the many black-and-white pictures, adding to the humor of the story and putting the reader in the shoes of the characters. The illustrations also have a small caption underneath explaining what is happening (scrapbook style), which lets readers into Polacco's real life.








Analysis and Critique

Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare is a picture book that covers a theme of rivalry and understanding different points of view. Children learn not to judge until they are put on the position and learn how to overcome it in a humoristic true-life story of Patricia Polacco and her brother, Richard. The book uses humor to create intensity of what is going to happen next, and how the characters going to overcome their dare. Told from Trisha's point of view, Patricia's character in the story, the book is illustrated to add to the tone of the book by adding real-life pictures when the story line happened. By adding such images, Polacco personally connects with the readers by letting them into her private life.



This picture book is a good narration of the recurrent rivalry that happens in any household with more than one child. This is why is a great book for children to read and learn how to respect other's feelings and ideas. After reading, it is a good idea for parents and teachers to discuss and put the child in the Richie or Trisha's shoes in order to understand the main message of the book. Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare is a great children's book to solve conflicts between siblings with humor and amusement.





Polacco, Patricia. Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare. Illus. Patricia Polacco. New York: Philomel Books, 2006.


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