That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Lauren Child, creator of the popular Clarice Bean books, lavishes her zany, ultramodern, mixed-media attentions on the animal kingdom in That Pesky Rat.
This brown street rat lives in a trash can in Grubby Alley, longing to be someone's pet. He knows plenty of animals who are pets. Pierre, a chinchilla, lives in the lap of luxury with Madame Fifi who feeds him chocolates.
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Nibbles, a lop-eared rabbit, works in a circus with Mr. Hoopla. (With all the trapezes and such, she may have a life that's "a little too nerve-wracking," but at least she has a name other than that pesky rat.) Miss St. Clair does puzzles with her Scottie dog, Andrew, and makes him wear a little hat and coat. "I don't think clothes would suit me," says our rat. "But I would do anything to be somebody's pet."
One day, the rat takes the matter into his own paws and posts a notice in Mrs. Trill's pet store: "Brown rat looking for a kindly owner with an interest in cheese." Fortunately, the myopic Mr. Fortesque thinks he is a cat, and of course, no one corrects him. They live happily ever after, Mr. Fortesque and... Tiddles. Child's funky, clashing-pattern collages complement this sweetly earnest story of a creature who wants to love and be loved, even if it means having to wear a little sweater.