Rat, from Patrice Lawrence is a super readable chapterbook which launches you straight into the life of Al.
Al lives with his mum, who is just out of prison. They’ve been moved away from Mum’s “friends” to avoid their influence. This is their chance. A fresh start. Isn’t it?
When Mum gets caught shoplifting at the local supermarket, Al knows that Mr Brayker (who lives downstairs) is responsible. He’s always grumpy, glaring at them and complains about their music. And Mum is back in prison. Al is mad, really mad. There’s only one thing on his mind… revenge.
The only thing that keeps him calm is having his pet rats by his side, Venom and Vulture.
Lawrence closely follows Al’s emotions as he tries to cope with Mum being back inside, and his sister Plum moving in. There’s constant advice from Gran, and from school and sometimes… it gets a bit too much. Plus… there’s Mr Brayker to deal with.
Rat is a cleverly crafted story, which moves on at a great pace. Lawrence skilfully gets into the head of her character; we really feel for him as he tries to navigate the new normal and sort it all out. I was struck by the author’s ability to capture Al’s bubbling feelings of anger, and how he dealt with them – something I know lots of readers will relate to. Al’s relationships with his pets, their importance to him, is also sensitively handled and captured brilliantly.
With a lovely, varied cast of characters Lawrence effectively captures the importance of community and friendship as Al’s story unfolds.
Rat has been published in association with Barrington Stoke, a well-respected publisher due to their focus on readable, accessible texts. This one is going to be very popular!