cover image Rat Rule 79

Rat Rule 79

Rivka Galchen, illus. by Elena Megalos. Restless, $21.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-63206-099-0

Fred is tired of moving around with her professor mother, and her dissatisfaction peaks just prior to her 13th birthday. Unable to sleep, she catches her mom stepping into a large paper lantern that has unaccountably appeared in their new living room, and so she follows. She finds herself in a strange new world inhabited by animals, most of whom are bound by rules created by the mysterious missing Rat Queen. (Of note is the titular Rat Rule 79, which states that children will no longer grow up and that time will no longer pass.) Along with new friends Downer the elephant and Gogo the mongoose, Fred embarks on an epic series of adventures to find her mother and locate the infamous Rat Queen. Peppered throughout the sweetly playful text are tidbits of wisdom that highlight the perceived injustices of youth and the qualities of growing older. Galchen’s charming middle-grade debut is filled with life lessons wrapped in occasionally over-the-top wordplay, and Megalos’s whimsical salmon-tinged illustrations provide a delightful counterpoint. Though absurdist situations and plays on logic can at times overwhelm the plot, the novel’s underlying messages are as timeless as its tethers to classic works of children’s fantasy. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (Sept.) [/em]