A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Information about New York City: subways, Brooklyn vs. Manhattan, Central Park, Battery Park, Union Square, Statue of Liberty, pizza, tour busses, MetroCards, Some information about animals: rats, pigeons, cockroaches, falcons, squirrels.
Home and family are important. If you stay true to yourself, you’ll be "unstoppable," even if you have physical challenges. "Maybe, when it comes down to it, there are good pigeons and bad pigeons, good rats and bad rats, good humans and bad humans. Maybe the only way to tell if someone is good or bad is by getting to know them."
Positive Role Models
Raffie's determined to find and rescue his brother. He perseveres even when scared or unsure. The brothers have a sweet, close, loving relationship. Kaz the pigeon is helpful and a good friend. Even unlikely friends and allies, like the fancy show dog, end up coming to Raffie's aid.
Violence & Scariness
Flock of pigeons attacks Raffie, pecking at fur, nipping at paws. Man brings swings baseball bat at Raffie. Bees get zapped on third rail of subway.
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Pigeon with half a wing is called "Stumpy."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Raffie on the Run, by Jacqueline Resnick with illustrations by Joe Sutphin, is a fantasy-adventure novel set in New York City with animal characters who talk and have feelings and experiences kids can relate to. Most of the main characters are default male -- Raffie, his brother Oggie, pigeon Kaz, and the majority of the supporting characters. In some scenes, animals attack other animals, and Kaz, who has only half a wing, is sometimes taunted as "Stumpy." Still, the messages of inclusion are strong and clear: home and family are important, you shouldn't let your differences stop you, and though you may at first think someone's different from you, you could very well end up being friends.
Is It Any Good?
Just as the viral internet sensation Pizza Rat grabbed the pizza and ran with it, this animal fantasy opens with a New York City subway rat and a slice, and races off on a tasty adventure. In Raffie on the Run, the city itself is vividly a character, though the main characters are animals, including a rat, pigeon, cockroach, show dog, and falcon, with humans making only minor appearances. There's humor when Raffie misinterprets or has a rat perspective on human events. For instance, he calls the food-stuffed garbage can on the subway platform a "treasure chest," and the custodian who empties it, "the thief." Author Jacqueline Resnick ensures that the story is relatable to contemporary readers by referencing social media and having animals talk about selfies, emojis, hashtags, and viral videos.
Though the author used to live in Brooklyn, some of the references to New York seem stereotypical. The huckster squirrel's a character who'd more likely be encountered by tourists than natives. And New Yorkers will know that a tall luxury building wouldn't have an outside fire escape climbing to the 32nd floor. But these small details will fly over the heads of young readers, who'll get caught up in the quest and active adventure. The book's also sprinkled throughout with lovely, lively black-and-white illustrations by Joe Sutphin, adding extra dimension, fun, and animation to the already lively story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.