cover image Misunderstood: Why the Humble Rat May Be Your Best Pet Ever

Misunderstood: Why the Humble Rat May Be Your Best Pet Ever

Rachel Toor. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-30308-2

Toor (On the Road to Find Out) artfully weaves extensive research and personal enthusiasm into a humorous treatise on the merits of rats, “perhaps the world’s most unfairly reviled species,” as pets. In a book that serves, in part, as a memoir of Toor’s late pet, Iris, she tackles head-on the visceral objections of many (“Fleas spread plague, people! Not rats”) and extols the charms of the domesticated rat. In chapters ranging from practical (“Get Thee to a Rattery” covers where to acquire a pet rat) to discursive, Toor addresses key concerns for any potential rat-owner, including their sociable nature, food and exercise requirements, health concerns, and short lifespan. Drawbacks—such as rats’ need for attention, tendency to stash items in shoes, and ability to get lost even in small apartments—are often embedded in endearing anecdotes. While Toor is unapologetically gushy (one photo of her pet is captioned “Iris, the poochiesnoogins honeymunchkin”), the book is well targeted to animal-loving teens, and Toor’s conversational tone, wealth of information, and ebullience could sway many skeptics. Ages 12–up. Agent: Elise Capron, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (June)