A Rat's Tale

Tor Seidler, Author, Fred Marcellino, Illustrator
Tor Seidler, Author, Fred Marcellino, Illustrator Farrar Straus Giroux $16 (185p) ISBN 978-0-374-36185-3
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-8072-7950-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-8072-7951-9
Paperback - 185 pages - 978-0-06-440779-3
Paperback - 978-0-06-449361-1
Prebound-Other - 185 pages - 978-0-606-16698-0
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-12367-9
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-30680-5
Paperback - 185 pages - 978-0-374-40031-6
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Set on the wharfs and in the sewers of New York City, this story features young &Montague Mad-Rat, a rat among rats in one of the most original, imaginative stories to appear this season. Montague, painfully shy, spends his days collecting feathers and &berries for his mother to make hats from; he also paints tiny, exquisite pictures on &seashells brought to him by his seafaring aunt. Montague's adventure begins when he &rescues Isabel Moberly-Rat from nearly drowning in a gutter. Escorting her home, he &learns that her exclusive address (Wharf 62) and family name (her father is one of &ratdom's leading citizens) are far superior to his ownhe hadn't realized that some rats &were ""better'' than others. Meanwhile, the whole rat population is being threatened with &extinction from poisoning, thanks to a land-development scheme. Mr. Moberly-Rat &organizes a massive RRR campaign (Raising the Rat Rent)a ransom to the humans so &they'll stop the poison. Teaming up with his uncle Monty (a drunken outcast from rat &society), Montague embarks on a courageous quest among humans to raise the money, and in the &bittersweet finale saves the kingdom and wins the girl.& Beautifully told, Seidler's fantasy never falters; it's a love story, a coming of age tale and a grand adventure. all rolled into one. Marcellino makes his debut in children's books; his wonderfully understated pencil &drawings add humor and much atmosphere to the tale. If readers can get past the fact that &the book's hero is a sewer rat (a not immediately lovable creature), or if they aren't &bothered by the crowd scenes (the thought of a million rats gathered in Central Park may &make some readers squeamish), they'll be treated to a memorable story. Adults will appreciate its humor and biting social commentary, though the subtleties won't be lost on &young readers. (6-up)
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