Rat Life [NOOK Book]


The dead body found in the river has nothing to do with Todd. Sure, a murder is big news, but what would really interest him? A paying job. Then he meets Rat, who's already been to Vietnam. And when he offers Todd a gig at the drive-in theater, Todd takes it. But hanging out with Rat leads to a host of perplexing questions. More and more, that corpse from the river is on ...
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Rat Life

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The dead body found in the river has nothing to do with Todd. Sure, a murder is big news, but what would really interest him? A paying job. Then he meets Rat, who's already been to Vietnam. And when he offers Todd a gig at the drive-in theater, Todd takes it. But hanging out with Rat leads to a host of perplexing questions. More and more, that corpse from the river is on Todd's mind, and no matter how he shifts the pieces around, Rat is always part of the puzzle.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this dark and consistently gripping mystery-Arnold's (Parts) first foray into YA territory-14-year-old Todd Anthony whets readers' appetites with "a list of possible first lines," beginning with "A dead guy washed up from the river." Set in upstate New York during the Vietnam War, Todd works at his parents' motel and spends his school days writing stories to entertain his friends. One day while biking home, he encounters a small dog; when Todd picks it up, it bites him and darts into the road where it is hit by a cement truck. He is forced to kill it-it's been too gravely wounded-and he is subsequently devastated. Todd keeps his actions secret; he writes about the incident for a school assignment, but is unable to turn it in. "I pull her closer. Feel a tiny lick on my wrist. I'm crying. Shaking. I never knew what crying really was." While searching for the dog's owner, Todd meets Rat, a tattooed and evasive veteran only a few years older than Todd, who offers him a job at the local movie drive-in. Meanwhile, a dead body has been discovered in the nearby river and Todd begins to suspect that Rat is involved on some level. Arnold amply demonstrates his ability to write for an older crowd, spinning a suspenseful yarn with a dizzying climax that sweeps Todd off his feet-both literally and emotionally-and will likely do the same to readers. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Karolinde Young
Todd is a secret writer. Mostly he writes gross stories to impress his friends. The worse thing happens when his English teacher confiscates his writing notebook. His latest story ends with her being zapped into a tornado of dust by an alien death-ray. The same day, Todd finds a stray puppy and meets Rat, a boy not much older than himself, and learns a body was found floating in the river. Todd starts to learn more about the mysterious and secretive Rat. Perhaps most surprisingly, Rat has recently returned from serving in Vietnam. As Todd struggles to learn about himself as a writer, and Rat as a person, his entire world will be turned upside down. And, as Todd points out repeatedly, it's all because of that stupid puppy. Arnold's most powerful writing comes through his descriptions of Vietnam veterans Todd meets. Arnold manages to deal with the pain the veterans feel without being preachy or political. And you have to love a book that opens with the narrator groping for the best opening line. Reviewer: Karolinde Young
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
Fledgling writer Todd's repertoire primarily consists of short stories in which his friends and teachers meet gruesome scatological fates. But after his teacher gets hold of one-about her-and makes a few critical red marks suggesting that she actually likes his writing style, Todd begins to look around his environment with new eyes, especially after he puts a puppy out of its misery when it gets hit by a truck on the highway. The son of a couple of motel managers in 1970s America, Todd goes from maintaining the drinks machine to helping out Rat, a mysterious Vietnam veteran not much older than himself, at the local drive-through theater. This book bills itself as mystery, but to the author's credit, the story and characters are more interesting than those in a simple whodunit. Rather than joining in with the sleuthing, readers sit back and watch Todd, Rat, and the other characters grow and take shape before their eyes. Todd is on a journey of self-discovery, as an adolescent and as an author, and kudos to Arnold for putting Rat's war experiences in context with his surroundings and the feelings of the country at the time. The book never quite falls into thriller category, but that is a good thing. The fascinating action is so character driven that it is never necessary to try to put readers on the edge of their seats. Odds are good that they are already there.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
Todd, the narrator, is a writer. He's 14 years old, and he relates a story about an older boy named Rat and the death and destruction he witnesses. The time is 1972, with the war in Vietnam looming over everyone. Todd writes a story for his creative writing class in school and he writes a story for the local newspaper after he survives a flood. There are stories within stories. The setting is a town in New York State, based on Elmira, with the river running through the town and the great flood of 1972 featured prominently. Todd's parents own a motel and he works hard helping them. A guest at the motel who is violent and scary turns out to be Rat's father, and it's this horrible man's death that provides the mystery of the title. Rat slowly reveals the details of his young life: how his mother lied to an army recruiter about Rat's age and how at 14 he went off to fight in Vietnam. (Arnold cites the book Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War, published by St. Martin's Press, which says that a number of underage soldiers fought and died in Vietnam in the US armed forces.) This is a boy's story, a coming-of-age tale about an innocent meeting up with a world-worn boy only slightly older than he is. Arnold grew up in Elmira and he obviously has a great deal of empathy for young Todd as he tries to gather his words and his wits to write a compelling story.
School Library Journal

Gr 6-10 - Despite a slow start, this is a solid story set in the early 1970s, with a likable main character and a thrilling climax. Readers will sympathize with Todd, a creative, sensitive boy who helps his parents run a motel in upstate New York and dreams of becoming a writer. When he crosses paths with Rat, a moody young Vietnam veteran, he gets a job at the drive-in theater where Rat works, and finds himself fascinated by the young man, who is compelling but possibly dangerous. Todd begins to wonder if his new friend might have something to do with the unidentified body pulled out of the river. However, the mystery builds quietly as other elements take precedence, including Todd's encounter with an abandoned puppy and the subsequent rabies shots he must endure, his resentment over chores at the motel, his struggles to write a story for English class, and his grandmother's deteriorating mental condition. When the river floods, both Todd and Rat are caught up in the disaster, and the truth comes out at last. The final chapters are riveting, but readers hoping for a fast-paced mystery might be disappointed by the leisurely unfolding of events up to that point. More patient readers will enjoy the details of small-town life and identify with Todd's preoccupations and yearnings.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440678394
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/5/2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 12 years
  • File size: 804 KB

Meet the Author

Tedd Arnold
Born in Elmira, New York, Tedd grew up in a family of six with three brothers. His family lived on a farm in Pennsylvania for several years then returned to Elmira until Tedd was ten years old. His father's work then required that they move to Gainesville, Florida. There, Tedd's first art lessons in an abandoned dentist's office over the Happy Hour pool hall eventually led to a fine arts degree from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Carol, started their family in Tallahassee where Tedd worked as a commercial illustrator. Carol, a Kindergarten teacher, drew Tedd's attention to children's books. Their first son, Walter, inspired his breakthrough picture book, No Jumping on the Bed!. His second son, William, now stars in No More Water in the Tub!, a sequel to his first book. He has now published more than 30 books as author and illustrator. When not working on his books, Tedd's interests include tennis, sketching, reading, coin collecting, and the computer.

"The inspiration to begin writing and illustrating for children came from my wife, Carol. As a kindergarten teacher, she collected picture books. I was attracted to their colorful pages and the way the words and pictures played with each other, much like the captioned cartoons I had drawn when I was young.

"Perhaps the biggest surprise of my career as an author is that I'm now going back to elementary school! Visiting young readers in classrooms and libraries is something I love. Kids keep me on my toes and they ask a lot of questions. The number one question seems to be, 'Where do you get
your ideas?' It's also the hardest question to answer because every idea is different. Some ideas seem to pop out of thin air -- while I'm in the shower or walking the dog. Others come from reading or research. But most of my ideas come from my family and the things they do and say.

"For instance, one time when my first son, Walter, was five years old, I found him lying on the couch, looking pale as a ghost and clutching a Bible to his chest. He was praying! When I asked what was wrong, he wouldn't answer. In fact, he wouldn't even open his mouth. My wife, Carol, finally coaxed a response from him: he pointed inside his mouth. Carol exclaimed, 'You have a loose tooth!' Walter's eyes nearly popped out with fright. We quickly assured him that it was perfectly okay for his tooth to come loose and that a new one would replace it. But Carol and I looked at each other and realized that despite all our efforts to be good parents, we had somehow completely forgotten to warn Walter that teeth fall out! He had thought he was falling apart! I made a little note in my journal; then ten years later, I expanded that memory into my book Parts."

Tedd Arnold lives in Elmira, New York, with his wife, Carol, two sons, Walter and William, two cats, Cody and Frankie, and one dog, Hershey.

copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014



    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2011

    Today I met Tedd Arnold

    Today I met the author at my school. Every year my school has an author come in an this year he came. I also got to be one of his volunteers for the demonstration of how his books got published. Go Tedd!!! Even though I didn't read this book I still know it is good. That is because Tedd Arnold wrote it. Thanks for the visit Tedd.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2007

    A reviewer

    at the beginning of this book, it was sort of, not tedious or boring, it just seemed to go on for a while with stuff i didn't think was important but in the end it all made sense. this book was great

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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