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That Pesky Rat


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About the Author

One of today's most successful illustrators of children's books, Lauren Child won the Kate Greenaway Award with I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato. She is also the Smarties Bronze Prize winner, Norfolk Children's Book Award winner, and has been Highly Commended for the Kate Greenaway Award, for Clarice Bean, That's Me. Lauren lives in North London.


K-Gr 3-He doesn't have a home or an owner, and, most of all, he doesn't have a name-and that pesky brown rat wants all three. He wants "to live with creature comforts. To belong to somebody. To be a real pet." In this hilarious paean to dreaming big (and learning to compromise), the rodent looks at Pierre the chinchilla, who belongs to Madame Fifi; Nibbles the rabbit, who works in a circus; and Andrew the Scottie dog, who lives with Miss St. Clair. All seem to have ideal lives, although Pierre endures a shampoo once a week; Nibbles walks the high wire, and maybe that's a little too nerve-racking; and Andrew has to wear a little hat and coat when he goes shopping with his owner. When nearsighted Mr. Fortesque misreads the rat's handwritten notice in a pet store ("Brown rat looking for kindly owner with an interest in cheese"), the critter is in luck. "My, what a pointy nose you have, and, goodness me, what a long tail, and such unusual beady eyes.-I've been looking for a brown cat as nice as this one for ages," says the Magoolike man. There, on the last page of this sprightly book, illustrated with goofy collages and bright, bold watercolor drawings, is the rat, happy at last, and dressed in a little sweater. And when Mr. Fortesque asks, "Well, Tiddles, who's a pretty kittycat?" he squeaks, happily, "I am!"-Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"Lauren Child is so good, it's exhilarating." The Independent; "Child's sparkling wit and originality never fails." The Financial Times; "A dolly mixture of typefaces, full of wonderfully dry one-liners." TES

In this uplifting tale, a needle-nosed rodent yearns "to belong to somebody. To be a real pet. Most of all I would like to have a name, instead of just that pesky rat." The trash-can resident envies his apartment-dwelling buddies, like the chinchilla who grouses, "It's not all cushions and chocolates," and the Scottish terrier who doesn't like to wear a plaid coat: "It's kind of embarrassing when we go shopping." Undeterred by his friends' compromises, the rat posts a flyer ("looking for kindly owner with an interest in cheese") and hangs around a pet store, until a man with poor eyesight mistakes him for a cat and adopts him. Child (Beware of the Storybook Wolves) sketches her characters in a thick, loose black line, then uses these drawings in high-voltage photo-collages. Her crazy-quilt compositions, which include cutout pictures of furniture and bathroom tiles, patterned fabric and wood-grain wallpaper, suggest a skewed world where a city rat might endear himself to an eccentric fellow; it also helps that the sympathetic title character speaks in the first person. Instead of highlighting the rat's sneakiness, the redemptive ending conveys his devotion: "So what if I have to wear a sweater? Mr. Fortesque says, `Well, Tiddles, who's a pretty kittycat?' And I squeak, `I am!' " Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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