Who knew cheese ownership could be so dangerous?
This edgy picture-book primer on “rat law” begins simply enough: An expressively sketched rat with a bow on its tail contemplates a big wedge of bright orange Swiss cheese, displayed as a cutout photograph. It turns out that rat law has a number of exceptions: “Cheese belongs to you. // Unless a big rat wants it. Then cheese belongs to him. / Unless a bigger rat wants it. Then cheese belongs to her.” One or more hungry rats is added as the pages turn, until entire gangs of nasty, bullying beasts mob the spreads. By the time “the biggest gang of the biggest, quickest, strongest, scariest, hairiest, dirtiest rat wants it,” the book—sketched mostly in red pencil—swarms with teeth, claws and angry red eyes. The faint of heart may be too repelled by the revolting rats to keep reading, but it’s a rare child who wouldn’t be familiar with the aggressive thievery demonstrated here. The giant typeface, the cumulative nature of the fast-building list of adjectives, and the “spot the bow-tailed rat” game that’s built in as the rats accumulate make this bold picture book a potentially hilarious read-aloud. Moral seekers, fear not: After the carnage, it is suggested that sharing cheese might be a more civilized option.
An amusingly ferocious illustration of the benefits of sharing from the team behind the equally rodent-infested A Place to Call Home. (Picture book. 4-6)