From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–An unlikely friendship develops between Walter, literate rat, and Amanda Pomeroy, elderly writer of children's books. With frequent references to adult literature (Edna St. Vincent Millay, Stephen King, Tennessee Williams, and Sir Walter Scott, and that's just the first page), Wersba lovingly describes Walter's path through Ms. Pomeroy's library and his discovery that she has created a whole series of books about a secret-agent mouse. He also becomes aware of Stuart Little, Noisy Nora, and a host of other mouse characters (but no rats). Some older readers will recall their literary heritage while perhaps gaining advice for moving out from it. Diamond's black wash and line illustrations depict the elderly woman and the wide-eyed and well-mannered rat with charm. The writerly prose, erudite vocabulary, and the plot's nearly flat trajectory make this slow for casual readers, and some literalists may wonder how a mouse's tiny paws can put snack dishes in the sink or heft heavy books. But those with a love of words will enjoy the way Wersba shows Walter sneaking up on a friendship with the elusive but observant author. Like Richard Kennedy's Come Again in the Spring (HarperCollins, 1976) or Randall Jarrell's The Bat-Poet (S & S, 1967), this book gives readers some writing to remember and a chance to view the world from a different perspective.–Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
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Gr. 4-7. It's hard to know the main audience for this small, old-fashioned, beautiful chapter book, which is told from the viewpoint of a solitary, literary rat (named after Sir Walter Scott) who lives in the house of an elderly, reclusive children's author, Miss Pomeroy. Kids certainly won't get all the references to classical literature, music, and movies, though they'll probably understand Walter's resentment about the absence of rat heroes (there are plenty of mice heroes, but only rat villains) in children's literature. How the two lonely literary creatures, "a writer and a reader," get together is moving and unpretentious. Walter writes Miss Pomeroy a note: "I live here too." She writes back, "I know." Lovely pencil drawings show Walter sitting in Miss Pomeroy's library, right on the pages of a book, reading passionately. Eventually they write more and become true friends. Quiet and unsentimental, this may appeal to readers slightly older than the target audience and to adults who remember the children's books they loved, including those by Wersba. Hazel Rochman
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