Here's a strange little book. It's a bit like one of those puzzle books where you have to spot the clues on every page to work out the answer. It's actually a bit of a romp through every fairy tale you ever read (exaggeration), and other stuff too, including real life. What you do is read through it, saying to yourself on every other page: Ah! That's The Elves and the Shoemaker, that's Cinderella, that's Oliver Twist, and that's the lovely Diana, Princess of Wales etc. (Just to start you off).
The story opens with the childless old shoemaker and his wife sitting by the fireside late one evening when they hear a knock at the door. On the doorstep is a bedraggled little boy in torn and tattered page's uniform, and all he can say is 'I was a rat'. Take it from there if you are interested ...
It is quite good for a laugh though. This boy was a rat. He eats anything!
'H'mm,' said Bob. 'You bring him back here this evening, and don't hurt him. I don't know what legal responsibility we got, but he come to us and knocked, and that's enough for me. And he's a lovely little feller, for all his chewing. You look after him proper.'
'No question about that,' said the Philosopher Royal.
Roger had finished off all the tassels except one. Bob sighed and snapped off the last one and dropped it into the little boy's hand.
'I dunno how you digest some of this, I really don't,' he said.
Is there anything for the thoughtful reader? Yes, of course. This is Philip Pullman. However Roger came to be a boy, and whether he likes it or not, he's stuck with it. So he'll have to make the best of it!
lily, girl, age 9, from toronto, Canada, on 20th May 2007. Rating: 10/10
I like the part when Roger ate the chillies and drank a lot of water and got logged. It was funny. Roger is similar to oliver twist and cinderella.I don't like the circus master because he starved Roger so he would be hungery for the show. I also don't like billy and the other boys who made Roger rob a house. I like Bob and Joan because they were nice to Roger. I also like aurelia Ashington because she was nice to Roger too. I felt sorry and sad for Roger when he got starved. I really like this book. I think it was funny when Bob and Joan took Roger to the school, hospital, police station, orphanage and the city hall.I strongly recommend this book for children that are 9-18 years old. SO IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS BOOK, READ IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ashley Thornton, girl, age 10, from Nr Preston, United Kingdom, on 4th October 2005. Rating: 10/10
I've only read to half way but I find it really interesting because the way that Roger does not know how to a boy and the way he acts, talks and behaves.It really wants to get you to read on.I'm not a real book fan but this is one of the best books ever and a would recommend it to younger readers.
Esmeralda, girl, age 10, from Uppsala, Sweden, on 16th June 2005. Rating: 10/10
I saw the movie Edward Scissorhands before I read "I was a rat". Edward and Roger are the same types of characters, they are misunderstood, people don't like them. Edward wheren't on a freak-show, but you feel that Edward Scissorhands and I Was A Rat are very similar to each other. I Was A Rat is more a book for younger readers, and Edward is a movie for more older watchers. It is one of the best book I've EVER read.
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I seem to have come across a lot of rats recently. This book also reminds me of this one by Robert C O'Brien:
And this one by Alan Temperley:
Otherwise, if you enjoy Philip Pullman's short books, you might be interested to look at this one:
And there is this one, of course, about transformation. Greg turns into a caterpillar, not a rat: