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Cinderella's Rat Paperback – June, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sometimes even the most ordinary rat can experience the extraordinary. "I was born a rat. I expected to be a rat all my days. But life is full of surprises." So begins Susan Meddaugh's wonderfully understated, comically illustrated Cinderella's Rat. Life is no picnic for a rat, the rodent narrator is quick to point out: "Cats are plentiful and food is scarce." Blinded by hunger, he and his sister Ruth fall into an obvious trap. Just when they are making their escape, the narrator rat is magically transformed into a coachboy.

The next thing the rodent coachboy knows, a stern old woman is telling him to drive a girl to the castle in his pumpkin-like coach. Once at the castle, the coachboy, at heart still a rat, is drawn to the kitchen by the smell of food. The cook--spotting a good helper--instantly sends him down to the larder, where the rat-boy promptly dives into an open bag of grain. A castle-dwelling boy catches him in the act, and suggests that bread would perhaps taste better. They munch bread, side by side. Suddenly they see a rat! "KILL IT," shouts the castle boy. "STOP! THAT'S MY SISTER!" shouts the former rat. The coachboy fears discovery, and imminent ratribution, but a strange plot twist saves his skin. "Life is full of surprises, so you may as well get used to it," the book concludes, and we, as readers, are reminded that change--even transmogrification--isn't necessarily a bad thing. Meddaugh fans should not miss her critically acclaimed talking-dog books Martha Speaks, Martha Blah Blah, and Martha Calling. (Ages 4 to 8) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4. What if one of the rats transformed into a coachman by the fairy godmother for Cinderella's coach remained human? What if he has a sister who remained a rat? What if an inept wizard tried to reverse the spell that wasn't a spell to change her back into a human-even though she never was one? With Meddaugh's magic wand, this fairy-tale switcheroo animates the scenario with tongue-in-cheek, tail-in-hand, and out and out clever aplomb. The telling is a perfect example of a successful fractured fairy tale, with switched point of view (told by the rat/coachboy), plays on words, and dramatic tension. The plot is short; the playfulness of story is tall; and the buoyant line drawings capture the whimsy. Just as her "Martha" books (Houghton) delight and entertain, this spoof tickles and surprises royally.?Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (June 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061812540X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618125401
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Meddaugh was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated from Wheaton College, where she studied French literature and fine arts. After working briefly with an advertising agency in New York, she moved to Boston and worked at a publishing company for ten years, first as a designer, then art editor, and finally as art director. While there, she did the illustrations for GOOD STONES (Houghton Mifflin) by Anne Epstein, and then decided to strike out on her own as a freelance illustrator and creator of children's books. Since that time, Susan has written and illustrated many popular books for children. She lives in Sherborn, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I liked this book. I thought the artwork was nice and the story very silly and fun. My two children (boy and girl; 4 and 6) liked it as well.

The book begins with a large picture of a rat sitting in front of a pumpkin. He is explaining that he was born a rat and that he expected to be a rat for his entire life, however this girl caught him and then the next thing he knew some lady had turned him into a coachman, eh, coachboy. [Note that this book is not about Cinderella.]

Our hero then goes on to tell of how he ended up on a pumpkin coach with the admonishment to get the girl, now nicely dressed, back from the castle by midnight. His adventures then continue at the castle. Not being anything but a rodent at heart, our hero ends up in the castle kitchen where a new acquaintance almost makes the mistake of killing his sister: a rat who is raiding the pantry. He stops him, of course, but not before his friend gets the mistaken impression that the magic spell made his sister a rat, and not him a boy.

There are several little twists to this story and I believe four year olds and up will enjoy this different take on the classic tale.

Four Stars. Cute story and good read-aloud. The main point is that life is indeed full of surprises.
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Format: School & Library Binding
Yes, there are some similarities in plot between this book and the Wilson book, both of which I own and have read. (Because they're both based on the same folktale, perhaps?) But the whole tone of the books can't be more dissimilar. The Wilson book includes murder, riots,death by incineration, death by the plague, death by being eaten alive by thousands of rats...it's a dark fantasy not intended for children under 16, a satiric look at human society, demagoguery,how revolutions go awry (many echoes of the French and Russian revolutions)loyalty and love.
The Meddaugh book is intended for young children of 6 or so. It is a lighthearted fantasy about brother and sister rats, who get caught up in Cinderella's big night. Only one rat is transformed into a human, and when he tries to protect his sister from another boy by admitting their relationship, things get confused. The two end up at a wizard's cottage, where the boy, thinking his change is permanent,tries to see his sister turned into a girl. The wizard succeeds (sort of),but then at midnight, he's a rat again, while she stays a girl. All ends happily for the two, and the rest of their family, and none of the rats ever fear cats again. The moral of this children's book is summed up on the last page:
"Life is full of surprises, so you may as well get used to it".
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By A Customer on June 11, 2000
Format: School & Library Binding
Life is full of surprises. Just ask the title character of Susan Meddaugh's clever story, Cinderella's Rat. You may remember him from the fairy tale: he's the one that the Fairy Godmother turned into a coachman (actually more of a coachboy). While Cinderella is busy dancing at the ball, Cinderella's Rat and his sister, Ruth (who is still a rat), have an adventure of their own. They discover rat heaven -- a fully stocked castle larder. Before they can enjoy it, however, there's a case of mistaken identity, and a well-meaning new friend drags the boy and Ruth to a wizard so the wizard can turn Ruth "back" into a girl. The boy is afraid to reveal the truth. What if the wizard turns both him and Ruth into cat food?
Since Ruth is truly a rat, the wizard can't completely change her from a rat to a girl. Much to her brother's dismay, the wizard transforms Ruth into a cat, then a girl who meows, then a girl who woofs. Before the wizard can "fix" his last spell, it's nearly midnight, and, well, you know what happens when the clock strikes twelve. The coachboy returns to his rat self, and Ruth helps her family by keeping the cats away. The most amazing thing about Ms. Meddaugh's illustrations is that when Cinderella's Rat and his sister change from rat to human or vice versa, they are still recognizably their former selves. As humans, they look slightly rodent-like, but in a cute way. As rats, they seem almost human, especially when the siblings are sniffing the cheese that leads them into a trap, or huddled inside the trap awaiting their fate.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a very good way to discuss and illustrate point of view and how everybody feels different about different situations. I enjoyed this book and thought it was a lot of fun for students. After reading several versions of Cinderella, this book was a refreshingly different take on the situation. The children liked it and wanted to read it again. It is funny. The illustrations are cute and the story is just as clever as can be. I think it is just a fun book for children to enjoy. I do know that I enjoyed it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a gift for the man who played the part of the rat/footman in our production of Cinderella. It was a perfect gift. I thought the story was interesting but not really a good children's story since the rat's sister ends up as a human girl with a dog's bark. I found that a bit odd and disturbing for little girls who might read the book.
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Format: School & Library Binding
An excellent tale to be sure, but I am concerned that amazon and other reviewers seem unaware of Wilson's The Coachman Rat (published in 1990 by Baen) which is a dark fantasy on a remarkably similar theme.
I strongly recommend it to all the adults like myself who enjoyed reading Cinderella's Rat to their kids.
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