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When You Wish upon a Rat Hardcover – September 1, 2012

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419701614
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419701610
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,842,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 3-6-In this fantasy set firmly in a realistic world, Ruth, who is responsible and organized, feels that she doesn't belong in her lackadaisical family as they don't appreciate her. In addition, she has been rejected by her group of friends at school for not being cool enough. Ruth's beloved aunt gives her the gift of a mysterious stuffed rat, which is lost on the side of the road during a scuffle with her brother. After her aunt dies, and with the encouragement of a boy in her class, Ruth returns to find the rat and discovers that he is magical: he gives her three chances to choose a different life. In each case, she is able to stay in that version for up to a day, but before the day is up, she has to find a hidden door if she wishes to escape. If she fails to do so, she will remain in that reality forever. The rat's ability to understand Ruth's desires are somewhat questionable, and Ruth lands up first in a "perfect" family, then in an orphanage. Through these magical experiences she grows in wisdom and understanding. The predictable ending is enlivened by the suggestion that Ruth was able to influence the present during her time in an alternate life set in the past, and by the side plot about her friend who is being abused by his father. Middle grade readers who like their fantasy with a good dose of realistic fiction will appreciate this one.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Ruth thinks maybe she was put in the wrong family. She longs for a normal, organized existence and a nice home, but when she loses Rodney, a mysterious stuffed rat given to her by her aunt, life gets worse. Her aunt hinted at Rodney’s powers but gave no details before she died of cancer. Ruth thinks perhaps Rodney is the key to happiness, so she and her strange friend Howard travel back to where she lost him. At this point the book shifts from realistic fiction, with its themes of family and grief, to magical realism. Rodney reappears, only now he talks, walks, and listens to Ruth’s complaints. He offers her three chances to create her perfect life, but when the wishes go awry, Ruth scrambles to correct things before time runs out. The style mash-up works, creating an engaging look at friendship and family. Flashbacks give this a somewhat complex story structure, making the book best suited for confident readers. Hand to fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (2002). Grades 3-6. --Suzanne Harold

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By cheryl101 on January 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a very good book! I liked how it stayed interesting and busy. I would recommend this to kids in like Jr. High
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Format: Hardcover
Months have gone by since eleven-year-old Ruth's older brother threw her stuffed rat into the river (a special, antique sort of stuffed rat, not taxidermy, that was a gift from her favorite aunt). Months in which Ruth's aunt died, and Ruth grieved...months spent despising life in a family consisting of absentminded, overly relaxed parents and distasteful brothers. Indeed Ruth has it rather hard--as the only one who cares about organization, and clean dishes, and Standards, she does more than her share of the housework. Her parents really do pay more attention to her brothers than they do to her, and on top of that, the cool girls who were her friends are now hostile.

The rat episode was pretty much the last straw that cemented Ruth's dislike of her family, and she's been furious with her brother ever since. But when she strikes up the beginnings of a friendship with Howard, a boy who's even more an outsider than she is, things change. Howard suggests that she might go back, long trip via public transportation though it is, to the spot where she last saw her rat....And she finds it again. And it is alive, in a magical, still a stuffed rat kind of a way. Not only that, but it can grant wishes--wishes that can change her life.

So, in classic be careful what you wish for style, Ruth experiments with three different lives. One makes her an only child, the center of attention of dotting, well-off parents, who smother her. One wish, for an "ordered, quiet life. No family," fulfils her request nicely--the catch with that is that she's an orphan in a strict convent boarding school. And the final wish has Ruth about to win a kids television quiz show--but there's a nasty twist to that too.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LP Salas on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ruth Craze is not happy with her family or her friends. Her favorite aunt, the only person who really understands her, has given her a stuffed animal rat, and Ruth clings to Rodney Rat. Until her brother accidentally tosses him off a bridge.

This mixture of fantasy, second chances, and grief is a fast, compelling read. Ruth's character is so quirky! I usually don't like really negative characters, but I loved Ruth. I did think she was stronger in the first third of the novel, and that she got a little bit bland in the last two-thirds. But I was still rooting for her and very curious to see what would happen. The ending is a little too easy for my taste, but this is still a really good book.
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