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THAT PESKY RAT by Lauren Child


by Lauren Child & illustrated by Lauren Child

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7636-1873-X
Publisher: Candlewick

A winsomely beady-eyed rat yearns for a loving home in this rather odd feel-good offering. Living in “trash can number 3, Grubby Alley” isn’t great at the best of times, but it’s made even worse by the occasional emptying of his “belongings into a big truck.” He lies awake wondering what it would be like to be a pet, explaining that “[m]ost of all I would like to have a name, instead of just that pesky rat.” After imagining himself in the places of various friends who do have homes and weighing the pros and cons (Pierre the chinchilla, for instance, lives the high life in a plush apartment, but he also is subjected to weekly baths), the rat puts an ad for an owner in the window of a pet shop—with unexpected results. The typeface performs such wildly acrobatic feats across the page that it is occasionally difficult to find, let alone read, but by and large its expansions and contractions help in creating the rat’s distinctive voice. Child’s (What Planet Are You From, Clarice Bean, p. 177, etc.) mixed-media illustrations are as energetic as ever—the far-from-warm-and-fuzzy rat himself is outlined in black with an appropriately pointy snout, and his fur is rendered with photographic collages of real “fur”—but there’s a certain tameness to the story. Readers may find themselves wondering if they want this delightfully spiky antihero to become just another house pet, but there is an undeniable appeal to his quest, and a twist at the end saves it from the treacle jar. (Picture book. 5-8)