First, they steal tough Chad Badgerton's hat. But it turns out to belong to Tiny Crawley and the boys get congratulated for standing up to bullies. Then they try shoveling all the snow in front of Mr. O'Hare's store - but they shovel in the wrong direction and get told how thoughtful they are, instead of how tough. They try to pick on a new kid and accidentally make her feel at home. They soap a mean neighbor's window and get thanked for cleaning it.
When their dad finds out about how kind they've been, they admit that they've been trying to be TOUGH, just like him - and Big Lou admits that it's hard to be so tough all the time - and maybe they should be kinder, just like their mother was. Now they're not the toughest Ratsos anymore - they're the kindest.
Black and white cartoons fill the book, showing silly bunnies, tough rats, and more animals populating the Ratsos' city. This light and funny story, with a not-unexpected ending, is a fun addition to beginning chapter book collections.
Verdict: This was cute, but I'm not sure I have an audience for it. It's a little too didactic for my taste also.
ISBN: 9780763676360: Published August 2016 by Candlewick; ARC provided by publisher at BEA