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Dirty Rats?

by Darrin Lunde

Publishers Weekly Few animals are as maligned as rats, something mammal specialist Lunde knows well. "Dirty rats. Their beady eyes and naked tails make us scream. Eek! Aargh! Yikes!" he writes as a frightened woman in hair curlers tries to sweep rats off her apartment's fire escape. Lunde sets out to challenge misconceptions about these ubiquitous rodents, while introducing different rats from around the world, pointing out how they vary significantly from those seen in urban subway stations ("Not all rats have ugly, naked tails. The bushy-tailed cloud rat's tail is completely covered in fur"). Readers learn how rats scatter seeds that enable plants to grow and how laboratory rats help find cures for disease. Gustavson's typically lush oil paintings do their part to help sway opinions-his sewer rats come across as intelligent, curious, and even adorable. Ages 3-7. Illustrator's agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Lunde starts out this closer shudder look at rats just how you might expect: in grimy subway tunnels and moonlit gutters, where rats swarm and scurry in the night. Rats are hated, hunted, trapped, and feared, and we see a harried woman bashing rats from her fire escape and rats approaching a skull-labeled mousetrap. But then Lunde, rat-apologist extraordinaire, suggests a broader view. Not all rats eat garbage; some, like the long-tailed marmoset rat, eat strictly bamboo. It continues from there: not all rats live in sewer pipes; some live in rivers. Not all rats scurry; some hop like a kangaroo. In smaller type, additional scientific information fills out further details about each atypical rat mentioned. Of course, none of this is quite enough to make rats cuddly, though there is a somewhat comical hard-luck-life expression in many of Gustavson's otherwise realistic oil depictions. The colors are especially evocative: the streaky browns of a tunnel, the steel blue of a street at night, the dark purple of mountain twilight. Rats: useful! Still kinda gross, though.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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