With my young mind fueled by seeing the 1980s B-movie classic “The Beastmaster” on HBO, I craved a pet ferret as a kid. I mean, I really wanted a ferret. I begged for a ferret. Having a ferret at my side was always at the top of my Christmas lists. I did book reports on ferrets. I dreamed of ferret ownership.
Thirty years later, I have never owned a ferret. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even touched a ferret in my life.
But despite that lack of ferret exposure, I still think they’re darn cute. I have found myself watching ferret videos on YouTube, for example. I love their rambunctious and curious nature. I love how they are “on” one minute and floppy and chilling-out the next.
“Ferret Fun” by Karen Rostoker-Gruber and Paul Ratz de Tagyos capture the dual nature of ferrets to a tee. One moment, they are relaxing in their hammocks dreaming of a snack of raisins. The next they’ve adopted a challenge and running full-steam ahead.
The children’s book is a quick and breezy read that’s set up like a comic book, complete with panels and speech balloons.
As illustrated by Ratz de Tagyos, the ferrets, Fudge and Einstein, are lithe and full of emotion. Their nemesis, Marvel the cat, has the perfect “cat smile” that shows menace and superiority. His website, linked below, shows the same kind of ability with all sorts of animals too. But despite his ability to imbue emotions into his furry characters, Ratz de Tagyos seems to struggle with animal anatomy — in particular with the “dog legs” bend in most four-legged creatures. (The simple rule is this: always remember that they stand on what would be our toe, not on our foot.)
The slightly skewed anatomy s a consistent aspect of his style, so he may have intended it to look that way, but it’s still a little weird.
Rostoker-Gruber’s story is simple enough and can easily draw a kid in, the ferret’s owner is cat-sitting and the cat thinks that the ferrets are big, tasty rodents just waiting to fall under its claws. Threats are made. The ferrets, in their own laid-back way, take the threat seriously.
As the story of “Ferret Fun” unfolds, the cat goes from a threat to a friend as the ferrets show how they can help him, and that’s the ultimate lesson of “Ferret Fun”: With a little work and a little ingenuity, you can turn a bully into an ally.
PUBLISHER: Marshall Cavendish Children
AUTHOR: Karen Rostoker-Gruber
ARTIST: Paul Ratz de Tagyos
TOUGHEST WORDS: Hammocks, refreshing, narrowed
DENSITY OF TEXT: Light and quick to read
COMIC BOOK-NESS: Quite a bit since it has speech balloons and panels
WOULD IT BE A GOOD MOVIE? Not really, but it would make for an amusing recurring sequence in a kids’ show.
THEMES: Ferrets, cats, eating, carnivores, bullying