cover image The Rat Queen

The Rat Queen

Pete Hautman. Candlewick, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1858-9

This folktale-based mystery from Hautman (Road Tripped) centers Annike “Annie” Klimas, raised by her single father, who, along with the housekeeper who homeschools her, hails from the Queendom of Litvania—a tiny Baltic country that others insist doesn’t exist. When her landlord father comes home each day, he appears old and haggard, but emerges mysteriously young and vibrant from his tower study only an hour later. On Annie’s 10th birthday—“the age of the conscience, when bad things begin to eat at your soul”—her father reveals a magic cure for guilt. To wash away such feelings, Annie must only write down her regrets and feed the papers into the household’s secret nuodeema burnathe eater of sins. But Annie dislikes the way this action seems to stop her growing, and as she becomes increasingly frustrated by being kept out of school and losing a best friend, she begins puzzling over a neighborhood rat infestation that her father seems intent on feeding. It takes a trip to Litvania for Annie to find answers in this intricately plotted, atmospherically sinister novel that interweaves portentous Litvanian fairy tales with intriguing, white-cued modern-day characters. Ages 9–12. [em](Oct.) [/em]