Revenge of Randal Reese Rat

Revenge of Randal Reese Rat

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060508678
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/01/2004
Edition description: First Harper Trophy Edition
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 7.46(w) x 5.08(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Born in Littleton, New Hampshire, Tor Seidler grew up in Vermont and later, Seattle, Washington, in both of which places his parents were involved in the theater. Encouraged by his family's love of the arts, Mr. Seidler studied English literature at Stanford University, and at the age of twenty-seven his first book, The Dulcimer Boy, was published, launching his celebrated career as a writer.

Over the past twenty years, Mr. Seidler has become one of the most important voices in children's fiction with such classics as, A Rat's Tale, The Wainscott Weasel, an ALA Notable Book, Terpin, and Mean Margaret, which was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997. He currently lives in New York City.

Brett Helquist's celebrated art has graced books from the charming Bedtime for Bear, which he also wrote, to the New York Times–bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket to the glorious picture book adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Read an Excerpt

The Revenge of Randal Reese-Rat

Chapter One

Elizabeth Mad-Rat loved warm, tropical places, but the midday African sun was more than she could take. It might have been bearable if she could have stopped to rest in the shade of one of the strange-looking African trees along the roadside, but she had no time to spare. The ship she'd come on, the SS Ratterdam, was leaving early the next morning to sail back to New York, and she was determined that she and her daughter should be on it.

The sun was so powerful that Elizabeth finally lifted her traveling case up over her head as a parasol. She'd found the suitcase, a French cigarette box with a dancing gypsy on it, years ago on the island of Martinique. It wasn't heavy -- there was nothing in it but her comb and a seashell she'd picked up on a strip of beach on her way out of Dakar that morning -- but her arms soon grew tired anyway.

I'm not as young a rat as I once was, she thought wistfully.

She finally stopped in the shade of a palm tree and collapsed on her traveling case. Once she had caught her breath, she realized how parched she was, and, seeing a thick vine twisted around the tree trunk like a spiral staircase, she started up it in search of a coconut. Last year, in Jamaica, she'd sipped some lovely milk from a broken coconut. But when she reached the top of the tree, there wasn't a coconut to be seen. Worse, even from way up there she couldn't make out the hill her daughter lived on.

"This is terrible," she muttered, realizing she must have taken a wrong turn on her way out of Dakar. "I'm a total nincompoop."

"Is that what you are?" said a squawky voice. "I wasn't sure. I thought maybe you were a rat."

If Elizabeth hadn't grabbed on with her tail at the last second, she would have tumbled out of the tree. Perched only two or three rat lengths away, camouflaged by the green palm fronds, was an enormous green bird with a vicious-looking hooked bill.

"Are total nincompoops native to Senegal?" the bird asked.

"I -- I am a rat," Elizabeth said shakily. "But I'm not nearly as y-young and tasty as I once was."

The bird was bigger than a hawk, and for hawks rats were take-out food. But although the hooked bill looked capable of snipping her head off, the bird just blinked at Elizabeth and said: "Senegalese rat?"

"No, I'm from... well, I'm not r-really from anywhere. I travel a lot. But originally I'm from New York."

"New York. Is that near New Machavie?"

"Where's New Machavie?"

"In the south. I met a marabou from there once."

"The south of Africa?" said Elizabeth, who had no clue what a marabou was.

"Of course."

"No, New York's in the United S-States."

"Oooo, that sounds juicy! Nothing I like better than a snake breakfast."

"No, not United Snakes, United States."

"Oh." The bird looked disappointed. "I don't suppose states are as juicy."

"I have no idea, they're something to do with human beings." Elizabeth cleared her throat. "So you like to eat snake, but not rat?"

"No, I'm wild about rat. Especially for lunch."

Elizabeth shot a panicky look up through the fronds. Judging by the sun, it was between two and three o'clock, which was late for lunch in most places -- but maybe not in Africa.

"It was l-lovely talking to you," she said, starting to back down the twisty vine.

"Why are you shivering, rat?"

"Am I shivering? I must be ch-chilly."

"But it's a hundred and one degrees Fahrenheit. Thirty-eight degrees Celsius." The bird cocked his head to one side. "I hope you're not thinking I'd eat you."

"But you said..."

"I like the taste of rat, but I wouldn't dream of eating one."

"You can't digest them?" Elizabeth said, stopping her descent.

"No, I can digest anything," the bird said, giving his feathers a quick preen. "My digestive system is as highly developed as my sense of temperature. I gave up rat out of respect for Maggie."

"Maggie? Not Maggie Mad-Rat?"

"That's the one."

Again Elizabeth nearly tumbled out of the tree -- this time from surprise. "You know Maggie?"

"Everyone does."

"But she's my daughter!"

"Is she really? You must be very proud."

"Well, yes," Elizabeth said uncertainly.

"She's one of a kind, our Maggie."

Elizabeth wondered what this meant -- for the sad truth was, she knew very little about her daughter. She'd given birth to her onboard the same New York–Dakar ship she'd disembarked from that morning, after which she'd spent a month in Dakar nursing the little ratling. This had been very hard on her -- she hadn't spent that long in one place in ages -- and as soon as Maggie was old enough to travel, they'd caught a ship to Belém, Brazil. But when Elizabeth had gotten ready to move on to Trinidad and Tobago, she'd learned that her daughter wasn't as mad for trekking to exotic, faraway places as she was.

"I'd like to go home, Mother," Maggie had said.

"Home?"

"Africa."

"But Africa's not your home, sweetie. It's just the first place you happened to put to shore, that's all."

"It's home to me. I love the open spaces, and the strong smells, and the animals -- everything."

In the end they caught a ship back to Senegal. They found a nice spot for a nest outside Dakar, under the stump of a lightning-struck bakawana tree on top of a hill that was shaped like a giant sleeping rat. But once Elizabeth had helped Maggie settle in, she couldn't hide her restlessness, and Maggie soon sent her on her way, assuring her that she could take care of herself. In the years since, Elizabeth had often meant to drop by for a visit -- after all, Maggie was her only child -- but the temptation to go somewhere new and different had always won out.

The Revenge of Randal Reese-Rat. Copyright © by Tor Seidler. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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