A Fine new fantasy about rats who have developed their own complex society on the piers and streets of Manhattan. Proper rats never debase themselves by making things with their paws, but the Mad-Rats, a family of gifted craftsmen, find creativity irresistible. Father makes mud castles, Mother hats, and old Uncle Montague engraves rings; worse, he barters with a human. In a crisis--the rats need $50,000 ""Rat Rent"" to buy off their human poisoners--young Montague's exquisite paintings on shells are sold to Uncle Moony's human for the requisite sum, and the artist is acclaimed a hero by the rat multitudes and by the exclusive Isabel Moberly-Rat, who has meanwhile been proving her mettle in spite of her snooty parents. Seidler has a sure touch; his imagined world has the kind of entrancing reality found in The Cricket in Times Square or even Stuart Little; his graceful prose has moments of lyricism; and, gently satirical, his characters are both funny and touching--their adventures move swiftly towards a satisfying but bittersweet conclusion. The elegant black-and-white illustrations are similar in style to Van Allsburg's first picture books, though more humorous, and add a lot to the book's charm. A feast for fantasy-lovers; a good read-aloud.