I Was a Rat!

by Philip Pullman and Kevin Hawkes

When a small boy asks for help, Bob and Joan, a childless couple, gladly take him... read more

When a small boy asks for help, Bob and Joan, a childless couple, gladly take him in. Strangely, the boy can say nothing about who he is or where he comes from except “I was a rat.” And sure enough, readers will soon understand that he was indeed a rat: he was one of the pages serving Cinderella on the evening she went to the ball. Having missed the coach at midnight, he was stuck in his human form. But Bob and Joan don’t know that, and so they make the rounds with Roger, as they call him, taking him to various social service agencies, all of which meet him with indifference. As word gets out through the tabloid press about the mysterious Ratboy, however, interest in him builds to a mass hysteria. This extremely funny short novel functions brilliantly on two levels by including frequent tabloid accounts of the action. Young readers will enjoy the folkloric twists and slapstick humor of Roger’s escapades. Older readers will be amused by Pullman’s piercing social satire, evident on the front‑page of The Daily Scourge , a tabloid that reports not only on the Ratboy but on the strikingly familiar doings of the Royal Couple. The dual nature of the story makes this a great choice for a family read‑aloud. (Ages 7‑12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2001

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