cover image Dirty Rats?

Dirty Rats?

Darrin Lunde, illus. by Adam Gustavson. Charlesbridge, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58089-566-8

Few animals are as maligned as rats, something mammal specialist Lunde knows well. “Dirty rats. Their beady eyes and naked tails make us scream. Eek! Aargh! Yikes!” he writes as a frightened woman in hair curlers tries to sweep rats off her apartment’s fire escape. Lunde sets out to challenge misconceptions about these ubiquitous rodents, while introducing different rats from around the world, pointing out how they vary significantly from those seen in urban subway stations (“Not all rats have ugly, naked tails. The bushy-tailed cloud rat’s tail is completely covered in fur”). Readers learn how rats scatter seeds that enable plants to grow and how laboratory rats help find cures for disease. Gustavson’s typically lush oil paintings do their part to help sway opinions—his sewer rats come across as intelligent, curious, and even adorable. Ages 3–7. Illustrator’s agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Feb.)