Monday, July 30, 2012

When You Wish Upon A Rat by Maureen McCarthy

3.5 Checks

Ruth Craze is an eleven-year-old girl living in Australia with her eccentric family. Life seemed more bearable with her Aunt Mary Ellen to even things out, but since her death, Ruth feels frustrated and disgusted with her life. One of the last gifts that Mary Ellen gave Ruth was a magical rat and the warning not to “let him rule you.” Now that Mary Ellen is gone, Ruth has nothing to lose. She gets three wishes and she plans to make the most of them.

Although this novel is considered middle grade (6th-8th), it’s really geared for eight to twelve year old children/tweens. In fact, any audience older than twelve might find the plot babyish and boring. However, I read this novel with my nine-year-old daughter and she really enjoyed it. As a result, my review is based upon her reaction, not mine. After all, the novel was written for her demographic, not a 33 year-old professor.

McCarthy does a good job of addressing some very real issues that exist for tweens: sibling rivalry, cliques, parental favoritism, physical abuse, and friendship. By giving Ruth the opportunity to create “the perfect life,” she learns the importance of family, loyalty, and kindness. Because the novel is set in Australia, young readers will struggle with most of the slang and references. In addition, even though the novel is told from Ruth’s perspective, her voice isn’t very authentic; it reads like an adult trying to sound like a child.

Advanced young readers might find this book enjoyable if they have an adult present who can explain vocabulary and historical information to them (i.e. how children were forced to be right-handed when they were left). Otherwise, many will probably give up on this 281 page story, which drags in a several places. 

ARC courtesy of VOYA
Publication: September 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment