This book could be called a rats tail. In fact as I read this book about rats and their lives on the edge of the human world found myself wishing I also had a tail, they are such useful and desirable appendages. Tails are also a good indicator of character. Our hero Montague has nice long tail. Randal Reese-Rat, on the other hand, does not. In a scene reminiscent of The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munch, we meet young Randal. “Although his tail was a bit on the scrawny side, Randall was a handsome young rat. His fur was always perfectly in place, never ratted, and he always smelled good.” Later when Isabel, his intended, arrives home in a very disheveled state we see Randal’s true nature. “Marry you! Are you crazy? Do you think a Reese- Rat would marry something like you!” Horray we know Montague is her one true love.
The rats need to raise money for their survival. Each year they present their human landlord with a barrel full of money but now the stakes have been raised even higher and the rats must find one hundred thousand dollars.
Together Montague and Isabel will save the day using their unique and special talents. Montague is an artist and Isabel is adventurous and the new rat vocabulary you will learn in this story is an extra bonus. The illustrations by Fred Marcellion are wonderful. A little like the style of Lemony Snicket and Chris Van Allsburg in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. We have a picture book by this illustrator in our library called I, Crocodile – check it out today. You can read more about the author too!
This book was first published in 1986 and so it seems amazing that it escaped my notice until now. If you loved The Tale of Desperaux, Tumtum and Nutmeg, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Borrowers, and the Travels of Thelonious then this is certainly the book for you! On the back cover one review says “I hugged this book to me when the final page was read.” Me too! Now I have discovered there is a second book Revenge of Randal Reese-Rat! Time to go shopping.