cover image Rats on the Range and Other Stories

Rats on the Range and Other Stories

James Marshall. Dial Books, $12.89 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1385-7

A frequently hilarious cast of characters scampers through the eight stories in this companion volume to the late Marshall's Rats on the Roof . Anxious to impress his date, Pig brushes up on his table manners and even learns a smattering of French, only to discover that there is nothing subtle to her enjoyment of food; in a subsequent tale, Pig, with a manic energy reminiscent of Toad in The Wind in the Willows, terrorizes the town with his reckless but infectiously joyful driving. Old Buzzard Watkins feigns death in order to find out who his real friends are, triggering a series of sly double- and triple-crosses. And, in the first and strongest story--Marshall's piercing wit and incomparable eye for silly incidentals have never been sharper--Miss Mouse undertakes to clean house and reform the diet of Thomas J. Cat, with results that surprise them both. This collection is slightly uneven, especially in comparison with its uniformly exquisite predecessor: some entries seem rough and unfinished, their humor not fully developed, and the lack of interior illustrations cannot help but disappoint. Still, there is plenty of trademark Marshall zaniness and incongruity to surprise and delight, and this well-loved author's many fans will welcome this posthumous gift. Ages 6-10 . (June)