An ill-tempered rat’s efforts to shake off a supposed stalker ultimately take a biting, satiric twist. Literally.
Edgar can’t seem to lose the “worm” that’s following him around no matter how fast he runs around the barn or paddles across the pond. Nor, when he offers the purported pest to a mole, a woodpecker and a pig, does he understand why they berate him for wasting their time. Despite a certain amount of visual misdirection in the low-angled farmyard scenes—Dumont poses Edgar throughout so that his nether regions are hidden by a grassy fringe and populates the ground below with wriggling earthworms—even younger readers will cotton on to the joke well before the rat finally chomps down on what turns out to be his own tail. The other animals, who had never liked him anyway, all find this enormously droll. The tale is not so philosophically or politically resonant as Dumont’s The Chickens Build a Wall (2013) or The Geese March in Step (2014), but it’s a knee-slapper, at least the first time through, with some distant thematic kinship to “The Blind Men and the Elephant.”
Best shared with preschoolers just learning irony. (Picture book. 6-8)