Child, L. (2002). That Pesky Rat. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
So, since rats were up for review yesterday, I thought I'd continue this ratty topic with a book for younger readers.
In That Pesky Rat, a rat shares his story, describing his life on the streets and his desire to be loved as a pet and to have a real name instead of "that pesky rat." (To which I must reply, Mr. Rat should be happy to only be called pesky. I've heard many rats called worse...but then those terms aren't really appropriate for a children's picturebook).
The illustrations are done in Child's usual style--meaning there's a lot of fun with fonts, designs and mixed media.
Since That Pesky Rat is structured as a autobiography, children could share their own stories after reading this book. They could attempt to write stories from the point of view of their own pet or a pet they would like to have, paying attention to the idea of comparing the protagonist's experiences to those of others.
Students could also write a newspaper ad, describing some wild animal as an animal in search of a new owner or zoo. Instead of just personality preferences, they could also include the animal's eating habits, preferred climates, etc.
Although probably not the intended purpose, this book could be shared with children who have been stolen from or have lost their home, whether in a fire or in the current economic climate. Since Rat's trash can is regularly emptied, a teacher could focus on how rat must feel because of that experience.
This is also an excellent book to discuss how name calling or the way other people feel about you can influence your emotions or the way you perceive yourself. Students can reflect on a moment when someone has made them feel bad about themselves or split into groups and give one another compliments.
That Pesky Rat may also be used to discuss adopting pets, especially those animals traditionally overlooked.
Quotes of Note:
"This is me. I'm the one with the pointy noise and beady eyes. The cutesy one in the middle."
"Most of all I would like to have a name, instead of just that pesky rat."
"I think I'd really like one of those owners who does a lot of sitting around."