Monday, January 20, 2014

Walter by Barbara Wersba illustrated by Donna Diamond

"After two hours of sitting in Miss Pomeroy's easy chair and nibbling the top of her ballpoint pen, Walter wrote his letter to Miss Pomeroy.  It was very brief.  It said,
'My name is Walter.
I live here too."

Walter is a rat who can read and he has moved in with the author Amanda Pomeroy.  As a youngster Walter had read two books by Sir Walter Scott.  He liked the name and the leather bound books tasted good too. Walter enjoys living with Miss Pomeroy because food is plentiful and he has made himself a comfortable little nest behind a storeroom but the best part of all is the library.  "Words swam through Walter's mind like bright fish, darting back and forth.  He did not always understand what he was reading, but the experience excited him!"

Browsing through Miss Pomeroy's library one day Walter makes a startling discovery.  All of the children's books are about mice and to make matters worse Miss Pomeroy herself has written a series books with a mouse as the main character.  Where are the books about heroic rats?  Walter begins his correspondence with Miss Pomeroy and eventually he gains the courage to bring up the matter of mice versus rats.

"Dear Miss Pomeroy,  I have enjoyed our correspondence so much, but I want to ask you something.  I hope it will not make you angry.  What I want to ask you is this.  Why do you write only about mice, and never rats?  Why does everyone else do this too?  Those of us who are rats feel hurt.  Please do not take this as a criticism.  Walter."

This slim sixty page novel is a joy to read.  There are so many literary references many of which I recognized but quite a few I am sure that I overlooked or did not know.  This is a book for children but I also think it is a book that would make any adult who loves to read - really smile.  Walter himself also has a high level of emotional sensitivity.  He understands so much about Miss Pomeroy - especially her loneliness.  I do think you will fall in love with this very special rat.

I have included three jacket designs.  I especially like the German one.  A huge thank you goes to my friend at Kinderbookswitheverything who told me about Walter!  Even now, days later, I am still smiling.

A small but very nearly perfect gem depicts the growing friendship between a literary-minded rat and an aging author of children’s books.


kinderbooks said...

What a beautiful review! Will you buy a copy? Who would you read it to and how much explaining of the literary connections would you explain?

Momo said...

Thanks for the warm comment about my review. I loved Walter. If books were food I would want to eat this book over and over again. I would read it to a Middle Primary group and probably not do too much explaining. This is a book that I think readers should re-visit from time to time as they mature and can possibly identify some of the literary references. I don't think it is vital to 'get' all of them. Some are easy like 'To be or not to be' and these I would explain.