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I Was A Rat by Philip Pullman

Reviewed by the Shannon Library Children's Book Club

Summary of the story

A boy arrives at Bob and Joan's house. He is constantly saying "I was a rat". Naming him Roger, they take him in and discover that he really does act like a rat, tearing his bedclothes and making a nest out of them, etc.

He is then captured by Mr. Tapscrew, put in a freak show, made to dress up like a rat, treated very badly and called Rat Boy. He's rescued by a boy's gang and bribed into helping with a robbery. He runs away to the sewers and lives as a rat. He is eventually captured by the Government and kept in a cage because he is supposedly "A Monster".

What children liked about the story

Readers liked the whole idea of the story and how it brought in elements of Oliver Twist, Cinderella and Dumbo. The inclusion of front pages of the newspapers was very appealing and funny.

Some children found Roger's repetition of the fact that "he was a rat" a bit boring though at some points it was funny.

Readers agreed to give the book a mark of 6 out of 10.

I Was A Rat has won the Smarties Book Prize and the Carnegie Medal Award.