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Grade 7-9-Matt, a 14-year-old orphan in Colonial America, is forced to work for an abusive tavern owner. Because of his bad leg and love of the marshes, people give the boy the nickname "Water Rat." His situation changes when he saves the life of Dr. Campbell's wife. At the first opportunity, he runs away to collect on the woman's offer of help. Living in the good doctor's house, the boy experiences similar abuse from the couple's son, who thinks Water Rat is a thief and unworthy to be there. In the course of events, Matt's Indian friend is murdered and the boy survives a pirate attack on the Campbells' Delaware farm. Although he constantly has to prove his trustworthiness, Matt's indomitable spirit and emotional reactions are moving and believable. Laird creates a real sense of place and time through well-crafted prose and vivid descriptions. A good choice for readers who love plenty of action, a solid story, and a sympathetic main character.
Bram Handwerger, Brewster High School, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.