Malcolm at Midnight

W H Beck, Author, Brian Lies, Illustrator
W.H. Beck, illus. by Brian Lies. Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-547-68100-9
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-90076-9
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-544-33666-7
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-547-68137-5
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Escapades, humor, and romance weave together in this madcap elementary school adventure from first-time author Beck. When fifth-grade teacher Mr. Binney mistakes Malcolm, a small rat, for a mouse and purchases him as a classroom pet, Malcolm develops an identity crisis. He soon learns that rats are held in low esteem by both humans and other animals, first from Mr. Binney’s read-aloud of The Tale of Despereaux (“Was that what people really thought of rats? That they are sneaky, conniving, lazy, greedy?”), and then when Midnight Academy members (pets from other classrooms) accept him only after he self-identifies as a mouse. Longing to prove his worthiness through “valor and merit,” Malcolm faces numerous challenges: Honey Bunny the rabbit’s distrust, Snip the cat’s evil plans against “the nutters” (children), and his forbidden friendship with fifth-grader Amelia. Lies’s (Bats at the Ballgame) detailed spot illustrations are a lively complement to the story, which is written in second person by an unnamed (but identifiable) narrator as an anonymous letter, complete with assigned classroom vocabulary and footnotes. A first-rate debut. Ages 9–12. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Sept.)
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