Though a rational ratriot, Randal Reese-Rat can’t help being jealous and slightly embarrassed at the way Montague Mad-Rat both saved ratkind and stole his fiancé from him in A Rat’s Tale (1986). The wedding of Monty and Isabel is on hold until Aunt Elizabeth can bring cousin Maggie back from Africa, but the story here is not just of revenge, travel, and the rift between elite wharf rats and those rats that do things. No, the fun is in the magnificently ratty details, the subtle wordplay and in the chance to visit ratdom. Beginning in Senegal, with Elizabeth’s search for Maggie and moving away from the wharf and the Mad-Rats helps this sequel to avoid rehashing the original and yet it continues to be true to its antecedents. This is not classic quest fantasy with good versus evil but a more charming and lovable fantasy with bad doings by relatively good rats and good doings by relatively bad ones. Seidler is obviously having a lot of fun, even though the illustrations fail to compete with Marcellino’s originals and the story seems a whisker more scattered and less focused. From the Bronx Zoo to Senegal the animal world coexists cheerily alongside the almost invisible human world. Dormice, pack rats, and even elephants, chimps, and beavers play their part in the denouement as Randal Reese-Rat’s gradual winning of musical Maggie Mad-Rat’s affections impinges on his plans for revenge. Practically singing themselves at times, the lyrics of Maggie’s tunes carry the story forward, along with details of rat life such as feasting on ratatouille and toothbrushes for fur brushing. Loyally and lovably ratty. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-36257-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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  • Newbery Honor Book


A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...


A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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