Posts Tagged rat

the amazing maurice and his educated rodents

 A talking rat is fighting for his life against a terrier, inside a circle of excited men who whoop and roar and snarl. Another rat bungee-jumps down from the rafters to rescue him. In the instant of astonishment before both rats are whisked skyward, the human onlookers just have time to notice that the rescuer is wearing a tiny boater on his head. He lifts it. “Good evening!” he squeaks. 

(Francis Spufford in The Guardian)

In The Amazing Maurice and his educated rodents, Maurice is a talking, thinking cat. And Darktan, Dangerous Beans, Peaches, Hamnpork and Sardines are talking, thinking rats (they chose their names from bits of writing they saw at the dump where they lived). They’re busy, with a “stupid-looking kid”, doing a kind of Pied Piper of Hamelin scam, but it all starts to turn nasty in the town of Bad Blintz.

Amazing that Terry Pratchett, in amongst all the wise-cracks, quirky references, and one-liners, manages a kind of meditation on what evil is and what it is to be human. As another blogger writes: “Originally intended for a young adult audience, this is actually a very adult piece of work – it has themes that are deep and abiding…”

As he said on receiving the Carnegie Medal for the book:

Far more beguiling to me than the idea that evil can be destroyed by throwing a piece of expensive costume jewellery into a volcano [as in Tolkien] is the possibility that peace between nations can be maintained by careful diplomacy.

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animal help

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I’ve just finished reading the book of the film of Ratatouille (rat-a-too-ee) to Sam. These blockbuster stories are often a bit confused – maybe because they set out to appeal to so many audiences – but we liked the story.

Like Dick Whittington, like Puss in Boots, the tale is about an animal helper elevating a poor boy to riches and fame.

Image © Ken Laidlaw

As in this variant, The Story of A Gazelle (A Swahili Tale), the boy is not entirely happy to admit his debt to his animal saviour.

ONCE upon a time there lived a man who wasted all his money, and grew so poor that his only food was a few grains of corn, which he scratched like a fowl from out of a dust-heap…

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no threats here

Sam doesn’t like bad things happening in stories, so it was good when we discovered “The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark” by Jill Tomlinson, which is about an owlet growing up and learning that the dark is fun. Nothing bad happens in this story. We found out that she wrote other stories about animals growing up, all of them really good, all of them with nothing bad happening in them. Nothing like a series to make you feel at home.

Sam dictated his one and only long-ish story, “The Rat who Wanted to be called Pat” after we’d read these to him. If there are no really bad things in it, at least there is a small difficulty that needs to be resolved.

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