I WAS A RAT!

PLB 0-375-90176-0 Pullman (The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, p. 1651, etc.) takes aim at city hall, the law, police, and especially the press in this whirlwind spinoff from a certain familiar fairy tale. As The Daily Scourge trumpets the prince’s whirlwind courtship with a mysterious princess, humble cobbler, Old Bob, and his wife, Joan, share a more immediate concern when an exhausted lad in a torn page-boy’s uniform appears at their door, able to tell them only that he used to be a rat. Although his habits and table manners are indeed ratlike, Bob and Joan take him in, dub him “Roger” and, when no government agency shows an interest, begin to think of him as their own. A quick learner but completely at sea in human society, Roger immediately falls into a series of misadventures, from biting a teacher who tries to strike him, to becoming a sideshow attraction. He flees to the sewers, only to be hunted down and condemned, both in court and in the pages of the Scourge, as a danger to children. Fortunately, Bob and Joan bring Roger’s plight, along with a pair of fine shoes, to the kindly princess, who, realizing just who the boy is, engineers a royal rescue. The satire is a bit heavy-handed, but children will find Roger’s ingenuousness, along with his inordinate fondness for pencils and other tasty chewables, hilarious. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-80176-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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THE QUILTMAKER'S GIFT

A sentimental tale overwhelmed by busy illustrations and rampant pedantry. A gifted quiltmaker who makes outstanding quilts never sells her wares, but gives them away to the poor. A greedy king so loves presents that he has two birthdays a year, and commands everyone in the kingdom to give him gifts. Everyone brings presents till the castle overflows; the king, still unhappy, locates the quiltmaker and directs her to make him a quilt. When she refuses he tries to feed her to a hungry bear, then to leave her on a tiny island, but each time the quiltmaker’s kindness results in her rescue. At last, the king agrees to a bargain; he will give away his many things, and the quiltmaker will sew him a quilt. He is soon poor, but happier than he’s ever been, and she fulfills her end of the bargain; they remain partners forever after, with her sewing the quilts and him giving them away. The illustrations are elaborate, filled with clues to quilt names. A note points to the 250 different quilt names hidden in the picture on the inside of the book jacket. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-57025-199-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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LAUGH-ETERIA

Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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