That Pesky Rat

( 1 )


The creator of Clarice Bean has conjured up a clever alley critter so appealing—and so hilarious—that young readers will be begging to take him home.

Sometimes . . . I look up at all the cozy windows and wonder what it would be like to live with creature comforts . . . to be a real pet. Most of all I would like to have a name, instead of just that pesky rat.

A glamorous life in the lap of luxury like Pierre ...

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The creator of Clarice Bean has conjured up a clever alley critter so appealing—and so hilarious—that young readers will be begging to take him home.

Sometimes . . . I look up at all the cozy windows and wonder what it would be like to live with creature comforts . . . to be a real pet. Most of all I would like to have a name, instead of just that pesky rat.

A glamorous life in the lap of luxury like Pierre the chinchilla would be very nice. But really, our hero’s not that fussy - he just wants to belong to somebody. With his cute, pointy brown face and beady eyes, why can’t he get someone to take him home? Even a notice posted at the local pet store seems fruitless, until one day a nearsighted old man stops in and speaks the amazing words: "I’ll take him." After all, he says, he’s been looking for ages for a brown cat as nice as this.

In her latest tour de force, acclaimed author-illustrator Lauren Child introduces a surprisingly endearing character, and assures young readers there’s enough love for all of us.

A brown street rat, who longs to be someone's pet and to have his very own name, gets lucky when he meets a man in the pet shop who has extremely poor eyesight.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this uplifting tale, a needle-nosed rodent yearns "to belong to somebody. To be a real pet. Most of all I would like to have a name, instead of just that pesky rat." The trash-can resident envies his apartment-dwelling buddies, like the chinchilla who grouses, "It's not all cushions and chocolates," and the Scottish terrier who doesn't like to wear a plaid coat: "It's kind of embarrassing when we go shopping." Undeterred by his friends' compromises, the rat posts a flyer ("looking for kindly owner with an interest in cheese") and hangs around a pet store, until a man with poor eyesight mistakes him for a cat and adopts him. Child (Beware of the Storybook Wolves) sketches her characters in a thick, loose black line, then uses these drawings in high-voltage photo-collages. Her crazy-quilt compositions, which include cutout pictures of furniture and bathroom tiles, patterned fabric and wood-grain wallpaper, suggest a skewed world where a city rat might endear himself to an eccentric fellow; it also helps that the sympathetic title character speaks in the first person. Instead of highlighting the rat's sneakiness, the redemptive ending conveys his devotion: "So what if I have to wear a sweater? Mr. Fortesque says, `Well, Tiddles, who's a pretty kittycat?' And I squeak, `I am!' " Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
A brown rodent yearns for a loving home in That Pesky Rat. Sure, he has beady eyes, a pointy nose and an alley dwelling; but he still wants what everyone else seems to have: affection, safety, warmth. The rat's musings are both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. Like the Bridget Jones of the rat kingdom, he takes charge of his own fate. In a surprising and hilarious ending, the little guy finds an owner who can "overlook" the very traits scorned by the world. Through her story and vibrant, collage-style illustrations, Lauren Child creates the most endearing bewhiskered fellow this side of Stuart Little. 2002, Candlewick,
— Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-He doesn't have a home or an owner, and, most of all, he doesn't have a name-and that pesky brown rat wants all three. He wants "to live with creature comforts. To belong to somebody. To be a real pet." In this hilarious paean to dreaming big (and learning to compromise), the rodent looks at Pierre the chinchilla, who belongs to Madame Fifi; Nibbles the rabbit, who works in a circus; and Andrew the Scottie dog, who lives with Miss St. Clair. All seem to have ideal lives, although Pierre endures a shampoo once a week; Nibbles walks the high wire, and maybe that's a little too nerve-racking; and Andrew has to wear a little hat and coat when he goes shopping with his owner. When nearsighted Mr. Fortesque misreads the rat's handwritten notice in a pet store ("Brown rat looking for kindly owner with an interest in cheese"), the critter is in luck. "My, what a pointy nose you have, and, goodness me, what a long tail, and such unusual beady eyes.-I've been looking for a brown cat as nice as this one for ages," says the Magoolike man. There, on the last page of this sprightly book, illustrated with goofy collages and bright, bold watercolor drawings, is the rat, happy at last, and dressed in a little sweater. And when Mr. Fortesque asks, "Well, Tiddles, who's a pretty kittycat?" he squeaks, happily, "I am!"-Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A winsomely beady-eyed rat yearns for a loving home in this rather odd feel-good offering. Living in "trash can number 3, Grubby Alley" isn't great at the best of times, but it's made even worse by the occasional emptying of his "belongings into a big truck." He lies awake wondering what it would be like to be a pet, explaining that "[m]ost of all I would like to have a name, instead of just that pesky rat." After imagining himself in the places of various friends who do have homes and weighing the pros and cons (Pierre the chinchilla, for instance, lives the high life in a plush apartment, but he also is subjected to weekly baths), the rat puts an ad for an owner in the window of a pet shop-with unexpected results. The typeface performs such wildly acrobatic feats across the page that it is occasionally difficult to find, let alone read, but by and large its expansions and contractions help in creating the rat's distinctive voice. Child's (What Planet Are You From, Clarice Bean, p. 177, etc.) mixed-media illustrations are as energetic as ever-the far-from-warm-and-fuzzy rat himself is outlined in black with an appropriately pointy snout, and his fur is rendered with photographic collages of real "fur"-but there's a certain tameness to the story. Readers may find themselves wondering if they want this delightfully spiky antihero to become just another house pet, but there is an undeniable appeal to his quest, and a twist at the end saves it from the treacle jar. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763672980
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 3/11/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 339,111
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD570L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauren Child is the author of three award-winning books about the irrepressible Clarice Bean and two books about siblings Lola and Charlie. Of this book she says, "I got the idea for THAT PESKY RAT when for several months, I was without a fixed address, so I house-sat, watered plants, fed cats, and slept on friends’ floors. I found myself longing for a place of my own and couldn’t help gazing into people’s windows, thinking how cozy their homes looked, longing to be somewhere that feels like home."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2003

    Hilarious pet humor and great art!

    This book is hilarious!!! My 5 year old daughter and I roar with laughter when reading this book. This is one rat with an identity problem!

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