Raving about Ranting

Have you ever reached an I-can’t-take-it-anymore kind of moment? A moment in which you are so filled with emotion that words just fly out of your mouth in one big rant? It’s probably not adorable when you do it, but I love when this happens to a beloved character in a picture book.

I am crazy for those moments when a little character has big feelings and just has to let everything out with an in-your-face, no holds barred, tell-it-like-it-is tirade. What makes these rants especially effective is that the reader doesn’t expect the outburst. That unexpectedness offers extra pow.

I have two all-time favorite picture book rants that are jam-packed with passion, heart, and, yes, humor. These rants actually come from two of my all-time favorite picture books. Coincidence?


In Leonardo the Terrible Monster, written and illustrated by Mo Willems, Leonardo longs to scare the tuna salad out of someone. After much research, he finds a potential victim—Sam. Leonardo does his very best to scare Sam. Then Sam starts to cry. Leonardo is convinced the crying is the result of his scariness, but that is not the case. Sam cries because he has had it. A lot of things have not been going all that well for Sam, and now a monster is trying to scare him?! Well, that is the last straw.



In A Pet for Petunia, written and illustrated by Paul Schmid, Petunia wants, wants, wants a pet skunk. She tries her very hardest to convince her parents that she will do everything possible to take care of a pet skunk. She will feed it, take it on walks, read it stories…. But her parents say NO. Petunia wants to know why! And her parents tell her two words:  “They stink.” Well, Petunia has a big reaction to that bit of news.


Poor Sam and Petunia! Life can be so hard! But guess what? We readers can empathize. We get it. We totally feel for these characters because, in one way or another, we’ve all been there.

—Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. Getting kids excited about reading and writing is Tammi's passion. Her other passion is mango tea. In addition to winning awards and garnering starred reviews, Tammi's books have gone on to do great things. Nugget & Fang was made into a musical that toured the nation. To date, the show has been performed more than 150 times. Wordy Birdy was named a Spring Kids' Indie Next pick, a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Month. Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. Tammi's latest books include Nugget & Fang Go to School, The Farm that Mac Built, and Not Now, Cow. There are many more books on the way. To learn more about Tammi, visit her site at tammisauer.com.


  1. ABSOLUTELY can relate! I haven’t read A Pet for Petunia – but will definitely pick this one up! Thanks for this post. 🙂

  2. I often wondered if the tantrums toddlers are so rightly famous for are something they would recognize in stories. Their parent who read the stories to them certainly do recognize these, and how…

  3. This post made me smile this morning. Thank you for that!

  4. One of my favorite rants comes from Susan Meddaugh’s Martha (the dog), who is given the gift of gab after lapping up alphabet soup. It’s not an angry rant but a stream of consciousness delighting-in-the-ability-to-speak-at-last rant — and it always makes me laugh. I’ve enjoyed Leonardo, and look forward to meeting Petunia. Thanks, Tammi!

  5. A good rant is awfully fun to read aloud, too!

  6. The cool thing about these books, too, is how the words are displayed on the page, exactly how you would imagine a rant to be!

  7. I love sparse text and then the sudden, over-the-top, relatively verbose rant. Terrific examples!

  8. I haven’t read either of these but love the idea of a character having enough of it all. (Who hasn’t had such moments?) I’ll check out Leonardo soon. Thanks!

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