From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3?Meet Smudge, a worn-out rat with stories to tell. They begin when the diaper-clad youngster is plucked from above by a "big bird with beady eyes." At first the birds use him as "a brush to polish their long beaks," but before long, he becomes "just like one of the family." That is until his feathered friends abruptly fly off without him. Smudge is snatched once again, this time by a dog. Initially, he is used as a "ball to toss around," but he eventually learns to bark and even wag his tail, and he feels at home. Again, the adopted family runs off suddenly without him. The rat's tale continues with a series of abductions, all ending with creatures hopping, swimming, or jumping off leaving Smudge alone and confused. Eventually, he is found by his very own mother who, with cuddles and kisses, leads him back to the safety of their nest. Following the same format as in his Peter Piglet (North-South, 1996), Rowe offsets his strikingly dark and distinctively stylish illustrations with a wide white margin while the facing text is printed in a bold, boxy print. While the rat's adventures are told with an offbeat, tongue-in-cheek humor, more sensitive readers will wonder why Smudge can only be truly loved by his biological family. Entertaining silliness with some disquieting questions beneath the surface.?Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Rowe (The Gingerbread Man, 1996, etc.) presents another delightfully eccentric character from his bestiary: an old storytelling rat named Smudge, who recalls his childhood abduction by a bird. Back at the nest, after a brief stint as a beak buffer, he becomes part of the family, learning to chirp and ``even thought about laying an egg.'' But the birds fly off and he is snatched by a dog. The dogs run off--he is too slow--and his next forced domicile is a rabbit hutch. They bound off, and Smudge's hopping can't compare. So it goes with fish and squirrels: Smudge is first used by his captor, then abandoned when he can't mimic his abductor's most salient attribute. At last, glory be, he is whisked off by a brown rat with a big smile: Mom. Rowe replays the to-thine-own-self-be-true theme with a combination of drollery and piquancy, with artwork that is dauntingly emotional: Sometimes Smudge is diminutive, looking highly vulnerable and far away; at other times readers are right there in the dark-toned illustrations, holding Smudge's hand, sharing his journey toward home. (Picture book. 5-8) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.