The Rat by Élise Gravel ★★★★
Read for: Early Reviewers
Series: Disgusting Critters
Edition: Tundra Books (2014), Hardcover, 32 pages
Original publication date: 2014
As the back cover informs us, Montreal writer and illustrator Élise Gravel has always been fascinated by disgusting little creatures. At three-and-a-half, she founded the Organization for the Defence of Disgusting Critters, of which she was both president and the only member. She followed through as an adult with the “Disgusting Critters” series of little books, recommended for children ages 6 to 9, so far covering *beloved* creatures from the animal world such as The Fly, The Slug, The Worm, and of course, The Rat. Originally published in French in 2013, this is an English translation. The large text is minimal an accompanies the humorous and equally bold and rather simplistic illustrations. This is not a criticism, but rather an observation: Gravel’s drawing style, which I have long admired as a fellow-Montrealer has always been deliberately naïve, cartoonish and very much tongue in cheek. The book, which makes for quick reading and would probably also amuse children younger than the recommended readership, includes interesting facts on each spread about the critters being profiled. For example, among the longer entries: “The rat has four long, yellowish incisors (big teeth) that are very sharp. They can grow up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) a year. To keep them from growing too long, the rat has to file them by chewing on stuff.” Yikes. I had no idea they grew at quite that rate—what a terrifying prospect! I’m sure that kind of thing must be incredibly amusing to children. I liked the book well enough, but I’m not exactly the intended target, so I will donate this little hardcover volume to my local library and am sure it will make for hours of entertainment and good laughs for plenty of children and their parents.
This review was written in exchange for a free book via the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing.com.