From Publishers Weekly
Set on the wharfs and in the sewers of New York City, this story features young &Montague Mad-Rat, a rat among rats in one of the most original, imaginative stories to &appear this season. Montague, painfully shy, spends his days collecting feathers and &berries for his mother to make hats from; he also paints tiny, exquisite pictures on &seashells brought to him by his seafaring aunt. Montague's adventure begins when he &rescues Isabel Moberly-Rat from nearly drowning in a gutter. Escorting her home, he &learns that her exclusive address (Wharf 62) and family name (her father is one of &ratdom's leading citizens) are far superior to his ownhe hadn't realized that some rats &were "better" than others. Meanwhile, the whole rat population is being threatened with &extinction from poisoning, thanks to a land-development scheme. Mr. Moberly-Rat &organizes a massive RRR campaign (Raising the Rat Rent)a ransom to the humans so &they'll stop the poison. Teaming up with his uncle Monty (a drunken outcast from rat &society), Montague embarks on a courageous quest among humans to raise the money, and in the &bittersweet finale saves the kingdom and wins the girl.& Beautifully told, Seidler's fantasy never falters; it's a love story, a coming of age tale and &a grand adventure. all rolled into one. Marcellino makes his debut in children's books; his wonderfully understated pencil &drawings add humor and much atmosphere to the tale. If readers can get past the fact that &the book's hero is a sewer rat (a not immediately lovable creature), or if they aren't &bothered by the crowd scenes (the thought of a million rats gathered in Central Park may &make some readers squeamish), they'll be treated to a memorable story. Adults will &appreciate its humor and biting social commentary, though the subtleties won't be lost on &young readers.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6 This whimsical adventure tale with a moral underpinning introduces Montague Mad-Rat, a young rat living with artistic and absent-minded parents in the sewers beneath New York City. His sheltered life is changed when he finds that the huge population of his fellow rats occupying the abandoned piers at the waterfront are in danger of total extermination; the crisis makes him doubt his self-worth, even as he tries to cope with the further discovery that a drunken uncle of his has made their name a standing joke in the rat world. Little does he realize that the salvation of ratdom depends on his own unappreciated talents as well as the despised uncle. The gentle satire of the charming story casts familiar human foibles in rodent form (his potential girlfriend's pleasingly plump mother has taken up petal arranging to take her mind off cheese), and there are some poignant scenes. Although seemingly light entertainment, the novel tackles such topics as death, strength of character, and self-acceptance, and handles them well. The book is handsomely designed, with clean bordered pages of text and expressive illustrations in tones of gray to complement Seidler's well-delineated characters. Lyle Blake Smythers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.