Viking. Jun. 2024. 224p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593622483.
Gr 3-6–A mysterious and fantastical tale centered around unexpected heroes: rats. Life is hard for 12-year-old Ratty Barclay, a four-foot-tall boy-turned-rat. Ratty is the latest victim of a curse that has affected his family since his great-great-great-grandfather’s time. Determined to break free from the curse, Ratty embarks on a journey with his uncle to where it all began: Fairweather Island. On the island lives Edweena Gup, ratcatcher extraordinaire. Her single-minded determination to ensure that no rats live on Fairweather irritates the townspeople and alarms Ratty. As Ratty tries to end the mysterious curse, he must avoid the nosey and impassioned Edweena. Nearly every chapter contains a black-and-white illustration that will draw readers to impactful moments in the plot. Ratty is a compassionate character who cares for others, including all types of animals, endearing him to the audience. Edweena is a key character who provides much of the story’s conflict. Though she has reasons for hating rats, her character experiences a lot of growth. Many readers will identify with her as the story works to destigmatize rats as dirty, diseased creatures, portraying them in a more positive light. The premise of the book may turn off some readers and the obvious answer to the mystery makes the plot drag a bit; but the prose is skillfully crafted and the conclusion contains a heartwarming message.
VERDICT A bizarre, sweet story of self-discovery and compassion that the right readers will enjoy, if they can get past the rodents of unusual size.

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