|Margaret Atwood||In her own words...|
In Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, bestselling author Margaret Atwood offers a delightfully ridiculous tale about the virtues of resisting restrictions. With tongue-twisting phrases heavily peppered with words beginning with R, the story follows Ramsay as he travels with his friend Ralph, the red-nosed rat, from his home full of revolting relatives to a field of roaring radishes. There he meets a girl named Rillah, who needs a bit of adventure herself. Atwood's rollicking text is accompanied by devilish and Dušan Petricic's insightful illustrations.
--Bloomsbury USA Children's Books 2004
|Writing Rude Ramsay
I wrote Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes rapidly. It was a rip-roaring rampage of R-words, and followed my previous letter book, Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut. I have now written another letter book, Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, which will come out this year in Canada, next year (2005) in the United States. It has a lot of B words for Bob and D words for Dorinda, though there is some overlap— Bashful Bob is raised by Dogs, and both of them Battle a Buffalo.
I get a lot of mail from children who have read Princess Prunella or Rude Ramsay, and have then written stories of their own using words beginning with the same letter. Sometimes they suggest other titles for me to write! It’s fun to think of all the words you know that begin with the same letter, and then try to put them into a story. You can learn even more words by looking in a dictionary. Sometimes the words are unusual or complicated, but you can usually figure out what they mean. Some children like to have their parents read the stories to them very quickly. You’d be surprised how often the parents make mistakes, and how pleased the children are when they do it!
What started me on these books? Princess Prunella began as a story I used to tell my little girl when I was brushing out her long curly hair. I was used to telling stories to children, as I worked with them a lot when I was a teen-ager. I was a camp counsellor, for instance. Also I had a much younger sister — I was in charge of her Hallowe’en birthday party, which was always a dramatic event. I used to paint my face green, gather the children underneath the dining room table, turn out all the lights, and tell them ghost stories. In addition to that, I had a puppet show, which I ran with a friend of mine. We started out by doing our puppet show at kids’ birthday parties, and then went on to give it at company Christmas parties.
So I knew that children like words that begin with the same letters, and they also like to hear about gruesome food combinations (although they don’t like to eat them!) One of my very old friends is Dennis Lee, also a poet, and also a writer for children — see Alligator Pie and his other very successful collections of whacky poems. We used to write silly poems together when we were in college.
Rude Ramsay is in honour of a friend of mine — he is a grownup whose name is Ramsay, and he has been known to be Rude, and I expect that as a child he was as enterprising as the Rude Ramsay in the book. They both have Red hair. He has a little granddaughter who is quite pleased that her grand-dad appears in a book, having adventures with a Rat.
Happy reading and story-making — Margaret Atwood.