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The Tale of One Bad Rat (2nd Edition) Hardcover – May 11, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Helen Potter lived a happy life until she got lost in a nightmare of sexual abuse. Now she's traveling through urban and rural England on a journey that is remarkably similar to the one Beatrix Potter once took. Bryan Talbot's inspirational story of young Helen Potter and her journey of healing won numerous awards and unending acclaim for the British writer/artist . . . even letters of commendation from Judy Taylor, the chair of the Beatrix Potter Society. This book is yet another example of a touching story that transcends the misperceptions that comics are disposable, juvenile pap. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Unlike most graphic novels, this powerful new effort is neither genre fiction nor autobiographical, but a compelling tale of childhood sexual abuse and recovery. Its heroine is teenager Helen Potter, who has run away from an abusive father and whose path to recovery takes her from a squat in London to refuge at an inn in the British countryside. Along the way, she meets characters and situations that Talbot derives from the work of Helen's namesake, Beatrix Potter, whose life he symbolically links to Helen's. Talbot's vivid, realistic full-color illustration brilliantly evokes the story's settings, yet even more effective are his compassionate characterizations. Although Helen's eventual decision to take responsibility for her recovery seems somewhat facile, her ultimate triumph is genuinely inspirational. This graphic novel has the potential to affect a large audience, notably including counselors and others who work with abuse survivors. Gordon Flagg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse; 2 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595824936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595824936
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.6 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Fritzius on January 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Once upon a time, there was a very bad rat..." So begins The Tale of One Bad Rat. And though it would seem a classic Beatrix Potter beginning, this tale is not hers, but is actually a graphic novel written and illustrated by British artist Bryan Talbot. For those unfamiliar with the term, graphic novels are essentially thick comic books, often collected from a series of individual comics. It's a format not entirely dissimilar to Beatrix Potter's own, and the similarities with her work do not end there.
As in many of Potter's tales, Bad Rat's main character is one of unfortunate circumstance who has to see her way past the wicked foxes and ill-tempered farmers of her life to find her happily ever after. Instead of using an actual rat, though, Talbot introduces us to Helen Potter, a wildly imaginative, homeless teenager, whose only possessions are the Beatrix Potter books she took when she ran away from home and whose only friend is her small nameless pet rat.
Helen's world on the streets of 1990s London is not an easy one. She gets by panhandling and through the kindness of her fellow street kids, but is plagued by occasional bursts of her own imagination. Among other things, she sees visions of possible ways to end her life, can see historic versions of her surroundings, can envision people as their animal counterparts and even imagine a giant version of her own pet rat. She views herself as a bad person-a bad rat. This psychologists tell us, is often the case among those who, like Helen, have been damaged by the all too common nightmare of parental abuse. It is the exploration of this important problem that forms the foundation for this story.
Like her namesake, Helen's finds pleasure in drawing-whether doodling on her pants or copying Beatrix's illustrations from her books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. E. Tyson on August 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Like Spiegelman's Maus and Satrapi's Persepolis books, this graphic novel shows how powerful this genre can be in dealing with brutality, in this case with childhood sexual abuse as well as with animal experimentation, social isolation, homelessness, and a horrifying family life. As society and family prey on Helen, the protagonist, she thinks, she reads, she develops her own thoughts and insists on going her own way--and on getting others, including readers, to think differently about their own preconceptions and assumptions as she sheds her abusers.

Take the example of rats--far from being reviled at best and something to be experimented on at worst, Helen shows other characters and us, the readers, that they're intelligent, amazing creatures that should be respected and even worshipped, as in Hindu religion. What's especially great about this novel is the way that it mixes an unflinching look at horror and brutality (Helen being abused by her father and rejected by her mother; fantasies of suicide; scenes of sexual predation as she hitchhikes; and much more) with a clear appreciation for the power of art and thinking (as well as the positive example of another assertive individual, Beatrix Potter) to help someone come into her own and leave her abusers behind.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By 96Lily on July 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've seen several people criticizing the cover art of this book, and I think this needs clarifiction.

If you read Beatrix Potter books as a child, as I did, you would have recognized immediately that the cover is a direct homage to the classic white covers of the little books. The plain white background, centered watercolor illustration, and even the title font is a faithful echo of every tale she ever published. Go check out one and see if you don't revise your opinion. I was, in fact, drawn to the book immediately BECAUSE I recognized it as a Beatrix Potter concept.

Oh, and the story is a very good one, and timely. :)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Banshee on March 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one graphic novel you'd never encounter too frequently in a long time! It is a very illustrative and eye-opening tale about an unhappy English teenager who took her beloved rat and fled the chambers of horror which she would've called "home", which was haunted by her sexually abusive father and her haughty, unloving mother. After a whole series of very scary misadventures with sexual predators and pursuing policemen as well as begging for food and sharing a run-down room with a cocky young boy who leads a helping hand, Helen finally decides to turn around and face her worst enemy - who happens to be her own loving daddy. And, Helen also finds a very powerful inspiration in her most favorite author, Beatrix Potter - who probably had gone through the very same situation in her youth. Very clever storytelling and such beautiful, realistic artwork that truly glitters with a subtle element of fantasy and action adventure, though I found Helen's encounter with her perverted dad a bit too melodramatic and some of the characters depicted in the story are a bit ugly to look at, like the girl's mother, who is wearing too much make-up on her aging face. However, this is the very kind of creation I wish I can find on more and more of the graphic novels and comic books being produced today instead of just superheroes and oversexed young bimbos.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Creech on February 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Many people shy away from grahic novels, thinking they are "just comics" or "full of violence and sex" (after all, we also use the word "graphic" in front of the words "violence" and "sex" all the time in movies and television). However, this book is not "just a comic".
This graphic novel tells the story of Helen Potter, sexually abused by her father for years, who runs away from home, heading for the home of her favourite childhood author, Beatrix Potter. The book starts with Helen begging on the streets of London, before she heads north to find Hill Top Farm, Beatrix's home.
The story of Helen's abuse at the hands of her father, and of the complete lack of feeling and neglect from her mother, is told through flashbacks, and as Helen talks to her pet rat. This is interspersed with Helen's journey north towards the Lake District, which mirrors her journey towards the eventual confrontation with her parents and with her own self.
This book is a touching story of hope told in a graphic format that will reach an audience that a more traditonal text-based novel of this ilk might not reach. The illustrations are vivid, yet the characters are also realistically portrayed (none of the gravity-defying female body parts that show up in some graphic novels!). According to the author, this book is also being used in outreach and therapy programs for abused children and teens.
This is a valuable book for any library to have.
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