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“A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance.”
Summary: Frederick and Ishbu are rats with a double life. By day they are the classroom pets. By night they are free to explore and save the world from evil. Ishbu likes listening to the kids and Miss Dove. So when Natasha (also a rat) asks for the brothers' help, he wants no part of it. Frederick, on the other-hand is all-too-ready to go to help Natasha find her father, a world-renowned scientist. There is no doubt that her father has been rat-napped ... and clue after clue suggests that it might be the Big Cheese, the blind albino opossum who heads an international crime syndicate. Will Ishbu really stay behind? and does Frederick stand a chance without his brothers' help? This is the second title in the series of a pair of 5th-grade classroom pet rats.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book,
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: The book was a clever adventure story, although there were gaps in reasoning, and the pacing is somewhat off. For example, 11 chapters take place in San Francisco, and the journey through Europe is covered in three paragraphs. It is also unclear how many human qualities the rats have. They eat traditional rat food, but a French rat makes coffee, cake, and ratatouille.
This would be a good book to read out loud with younger children. With the different places, kids could learn about San Francisco's Chinatown, Scotland, and the Matterhorn; and the European characters can help introduce children to new concepts and ways of life.
Adult Reader Reaction: Except for the characters being rats - and suspending some reality (rats can climb the Alps?) - this is a clever, fun story. The author offers humor and there is plenty of dialogue so that you can play the part of any character (complete with various accents) and ham it up.
Pros: Lots of action propels this classic-like mystery of two gallivanting classroom pets.
Cons: None. The author does a nice job with the various animals who play a role, but those who tend to be more 'realistic' in their assessments of rodents' abilities may get cranky.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a fun, wholesome read. Great for audiences of mixed ages.
Educational Themes: This is purely for recreational reading. It could be fun to chart the characters' journey on a map or globe, including the location of where they came from (e.g., Natasha came from Russia). The scenes are described in wonderful detail and could make for an interesting art project to let the kids draw what they hear.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.