From the Publisher
“A droll fantasy with an old-fashioned sweep and a positively cinematic cast.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A mystery is cleverly woven into this fun and, at times, hilarious caper, and children are likely to find themselves laughing out loud . . . a delightful read.” School Library Journal, Starred Review
“Jonell takes readers on a merry, sometimes scary romp [that] turns smoothly on its fanciful premise and fabulous characters. As in so many stories featuring a rat, the sneaky rodent gets the best lines.” Booklist, Starred Review
“Fun and funny, this fast-paced page turner appropriately begins and ends with the unforgettable Rat in an acrobatic flip-book feature.” Kirkus Reviews
Jonell's (the Christopher and Robbie picture books) first novel is a lustrous affair, a droll fantasy with an old-fashioned sweep and a positively cinematic cast. The beginning will hook readers right away: the class pet, a rat, mocks the protagonist for being too good. "It doesn't get you anywhere," he tells her. "The only thing that happens is, you get ignored." When the teacher doesn't even seem to see the girl a few pages later, the rat has made his case for being bad, and Jonell has launched a truly labyrinthine plot involving prodigally endowed rodents and nefarious schemers with entangled pasts. Emmy, the heroine, must face down evil nanny Jane Barmy and win back the love of her parents, former booksellers who, since inheriting Great-Great-Uncle William's fortune, spend all their time jet-setting and buying themselves the very best of everything. Her challenge increases when the rat-freed by Emmy, one of the few characters who can hear him talk-accidentally shrinks her to his size. Jonell's villains aren't too frightening to be good targets for jokes, and the rat serves as an excellent comic foil. Occasionally the eccentricities of the plot sidetrack the action or otherwise bog down the pacing, but for the most part the narrative proceeds at an assured clip. To top off the fun, Bean (At Nightand The Apple Pie That Papa Baked, both reviewed above) decorates the margins with drawings that produce a flip-book effect: the rat falls from the bough of a tree, covering his eyes as he somersaults backward in mid-air to land in Emmy's outstretched hand. Ages 9-up. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Sharon Oliver
Emmy is invisible. At least, that is how she feels. Her formerly attentive parents have inherited a good deal of money and keep leaving on longer and longer trips. Her teacher cannot remember her name, and her classmates act like she is not there. The only one who seems to notice her presence is the classroom pet rat, and he is not happy with her either. After the rat bites her, Emmy is stunned to discover the rat can talk. It turns out that he is one of a group of rats with special powers being kept captive by the town's resident mad scientist, Professor Capybara, and he is in cahoots with Emmy's scheming nanny, Miss Barmy. When a boy in her class discovers he too, can hear the rat and talks to Emmy, they end up on a rollicking adventure to rescue the rats and undo Barmy's control over Emmy's parents before it is too late. This is a great can't-put-it-down action story. Jonell's characters are well fleshed out, including the standard evil villains. Emmy is definitely a heroine to root for, and there are moments of true humor mixed with some real peril on their adventures. Each page contains an illustration along the top edge that when flipped quickly, shows a rat falling from a tree limb. The only real quibbles with the book are the title and the cover art. The title is a bit misleading (the rat does not shrink, he shrinks other people) and is not quite in keeping with the fast-paced story. The cover is printed with old-fashioned looking art and dull oranges and blues. It is hardly eye-catching. This is a good addition to all collections, but you may have to push readers past the cover. Reviewer: Sharon Oliver
School Library Journal
Emmy Addison was perfectly happy as the daughter of bookstore owners-and then her parents inherited a lot of money and she suddenly became invisible. She can't understand why her formerly attentive and loving mother and father keep taking off for faraway places and leaving her in the hands of an incredibly controlling nanny named Miss Barmy. And no one at school seems to know she exists. Then, she is bitten by the classroom rat and discovers that she can understand every word he says, as can Joe, one of the cool kids in her class who was also bitten. At this point, events start to unfold and a fast-paced adventure begins. To Joe's chagrin, he discovers that a second bite makes a person shrink to the size of an action figure and Emmy discovers that Miss Barmy has been mixing animal essences together to control the Addisons' lives. With the aid of new animal friends, Emmy embarks upon a perilous path to undo the evil nanny's sinister plans. A mystery is cleverly woven into this fun and, at times, hilarious caper, and children are likely to find themselves laughing out loud during some parts. A medley of endearing characters adds to an already delightful read.
Robyn GioiaCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Ten-year-old Emmy lived happily with her parents in an apartment above their bookstore until an unexpected inheritance changed their lives. Now Emmy's parents spend their time jet-setting, leaving Emmy in the not-so-loving hands of her very strange nanny, Miss Barmy. Miss Barmy pretends to act in Emmy's best interests, but something's rotten in her rigid regimen. Emmy tries to be so good, but no one notices her except the talking Rat who lives in her classroom. Rat warns Emmy that she's "a big nothing" and urges her to stand up for herself and "try being bad." Emmy frees the Rat, triggering a landslide of fantastical events featuring the conniving Miss Barmy, cunning Professor Vole and The Antique Rat, his mysterious shop filled with rare rodents. As a transformed Emmy and some new four-legged friends try to outwit Miss Barmy and outrun Professor Vole, the irascible Rat turns the tide. Fun and funny, this fast-paced page turner appropriately begins and ends with the unforgettable Rat in an acrobatic flip-book feature. (Fiction. 9-12)
Read an Excerpt
The Rat was not good at all. When the children at Grayson Lake Elementary reached in to feed him, he snapped at their fingers. When they had a little trouble with fractions, he sneered. And he often made cutting remarks in a low voice when the teacher was just out of earshot.
Emmy was the only one who heard him. And even she wondered sometimes if she were just imagining things.
One Wednesday in May, when not one person had seemed to notice her all morning, Emmy asked to stay indoors for recess. “I have spelling to study,” she explained to Mr. Herbifore.
The teacher, hurrying out after his class, didn’t look at her as he nodded permission. At least Emmy thought he had nodded…
“Thank you,” said Emmy. And then she heard something that sounded—oddly—like a snort. She looked at the Rat, and he snorted again. He was scowling, as usual.
“Why are you always so mean?” Emmy wondered aloud.
She didn’t expect the Rat to answer. She had tried to speak to him before, and he had always pretended not to hear.
But this time he curled his upper lip. “Why are you always so good?”
Emmy was too startled to respond.
The Rat shrugged one furry shoulder. “It doesn’t get you anywhere. Just look at you—missing recess to study words you could spell in your sleep—and the only thing that happens is, you get ignored.”
Emmy looked away. It was true. She didn’t want to tell the Rat, but she didn’t mind missing recess at all. For Emmy, recess was a time when she felt more alone than ever.
“The bad ones get all the attention,” said the Rat. “Try being bad for once. You might like it.”