Oh, Rats!

By: Tor Seidler

Phoenix is a pretty big deal in his neck of the woods: The biggest in his litter with the most lustrous fur and by far the bushiest tail, he’s one of the most sought-after squirrels in New Jersey—which makes his kidnapping by hawk even more dramatic.

Luckily, the hawk doesn’t have the best grip. Unluckily, he drops Phoenix on a freshly-tarred street in downtown Manhattan. Now stripped of his gorgeous golden-brown coat, Phoenix looks like nothing more than a common sewer rat. Fortunately for Phoenix, it’s not a pack of sewer rats that find him (they’re a notoriously surly bunch), but rather wharf rats.

Taken in by siblings Lucy and Beckett, Phoenix is welcomed into a rat pack living in abandoned piers on the Hudson. But when they learn of plans to demolish the piers, Phoenix is swept up in a truly electrifying scheme to stop the humans from destroying his new friends’ home.



Black-and-white illustrations rendered in pencil and gouache.

ISBN: 9781534426849

JLG Release: Oct 2019


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Squirrels , Rats , Adventure , New York City , Animals , Gentrification

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Booklist*, School Library Journal, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

Phoenix is a lucky squirrel. He was the largest in his litter, has the most luxurious tail, and can climb the tallest trees of all the squirrels in New Jersey. His luck runs out when he is kidnapped by a chatty red-tailed hawk named Walter. But Walter doesn’t have the best grip, and with Phoenix being so large, Walter drops Phoenix across the riv Phoenix is a lucky squirrel. He was the largest in his litter, has the most luxurious tail, and can climb the tallest trees of all the squirrels in New Jersey. His luck runs out when he is kidnapped by a chatty red-tailed hawk named Walter. But Walter doesn’t have the best grip, and with Phoenix being so large, Walter drops Phoenix across the river…in Manhattan. This turn of events finds Phoenix dealing with hot tar, which burns off his fur. Then he falls into the Hudson River. Facing certain death, he is rescued by Lucy and Beckett, sister and brother rats. They take pity on Phoenix, and soon the community of wharf rats accept him as one of their own. When the rats discover that a New York developer is tearing down their home to build tennis courts, they organize themselves into a resistance movement. With his talent at climbing tall things, Phoenix is enlisted to sabotage the electrical grid. The results are surprising, even to Phoenix. When Walter returns and offers Phoenix a ride back home, Phoenix must choose the life that has the most purpose. Seidler develops engaging characters for whom readers will root. This is a charming tale of finding oneself and choosing one’s own destiny. A solid purchase for most libraries.

Horn Book

Phoenix, an adolescent tree squirrel, lives the good life in a wooded area near Manahawkin, New Jersey. He’s the pick of the litter with an enviable bushy tail, a luxurious coat, and an active social life. Rupert, Phoenix’s father, instructs him in the ways of the world, such as how to find and hide nuts and avoid human killing machines (a.k.a. Phoenix, an adolescent tree squirrel, lives the good life in a wooded area near Manahawkin, New Jersey. He’s the pick of the litter with an enviable bushy tail, a luxurious coat, and an active social life. Rupert, Phoenix’s father, instructs him in the ways of the world, such as how to find and hide nuts and avoid human killing machines (a.k.a. automobiles) that send squirrels to the heavenly place “where all nuts are shelled.” But, being young, Phoenix is not as careful as he should be, and one day a hawk swoops down and grabs him, only to drop him unceremoniously on a newly tarred street in Manhattan. The tar singes Phoenix’s once-beautiful coat, and he heads across the West Side Highway to cool off in the Hudson River. There he nearly drowns but is rescued by, as Rupert has told him, the lowest rung in the rodent family—rats. To his surprise, the wharf rats generously care for him, and gradually Phoenix becomes a valued member of the community, battling the planned destruction of the abandoned pier that is the rats’ home. The animals stand in for familiar human types: wise elder, political buffoon, bookworm, deadbeat dad, and an understanding female friend. Seidler playfully allows readers a squirrel’s-eye view of the world, but, more seriously, with questions of creature cooperation and interspecies relationships, he fosters deeper contemplation.

Book Details

ISBN

9781534426849

First Release

October 2019

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8" x 5"

Page Count

320

Accelerated Reader

Level 6; Points: 9;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Squirrels, Rats, Adventure, New York City, Animals, Gentrification,

Standard MARC Record

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Cover Art

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