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Walter: The Story of a Ratby Barbara Wersba
2006 Children's Choices
Synopses & Reviews
Barbara Wersba's heartwarming story is perfectly complemented by Donna Diamond's exquisite drawings. Walter is a rat unlike any other rat. He can read and write. He lives, quietly and secretly, in the home of Amanda Pomeroy, a children's book writer. One day Walter discovers that Miss Pomeroy's books are all about a mouse and he is appalled. Well aware of the human propensity to dislike rats, Walter wants to discuss the subject with her. But first he must make contact. He writes a letter and so begins a correspondence which brings these two most unlikely house mates together as friends.
"Wersba's (Whistle Me Home) brief tale of a blossoming friendship introduces a literate rat, who 'christen[ed] himself Walter' after reading works by Sir Walter Scott, and the children's book author whose home he inhabits. The rat hero, who lives under the floorboards of a house owned by Miss Pomeroy, makes a discovery in her library one day. Not only has she written a children's book series about a secret-agent mouse, but he discovers many other authors who have also written about mice ('There was a whole flock of little books by a woman named Potter, which dealt obsessively with mice,' he observes disdainfully). Like Emmaline in Elizabeth Spires's The Mouse of Amherst, Walter begins communicating with Miss Pomeroy through notes, and he questions why authors never write about rats. In the satisfyingly sentimental finale, the author leaves for Walter a singular Christmas gift and the two finally meet. Wersba wryly interjects into her gentle narrative snippets of literature Walter has read, although many of the allusions will appeal more to older readers (a reference to Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms and Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the movie The Maltese Falcon, etc.). The real charm here comes through Walter's close observations of his writer landlady, and through Wersba's gradual build to a friendship that seems inevitable. Diamond's half-tone illustrations strike a pleasing balance between realistic portraits of the hero while also allowing his personality to come through. Ages 8-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"How the two lonely literary creatures...get together is moving and unpretentious." Booklist
"This soothing, old-fashioned tale, accompanied by precisely rendered pen-and-ink illustrations, is a tribute to books and bibliophiles." Hornbook Guide to Children
"Diamond's black-and-white drawings are a charming addition to the book and most are worth a second or third glance in their own right." Children's Literature
"Funny and poignant by turns, here's a sweetly quirky love story of letters." Kirkus Reviews
"A sophisticated, quiet contemplation of the relationship between readers and writers that may appeal to thoughtful readers." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Walter is the most engaging rat in literature since Ratty in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows...and it must be said that Donna Diamond's illustrations are, in their own way, as compelling as those of Ernest H. Shepard." The Southhampton Press
"Barbara Wersba...tells a poignant story of two lonely creatures who somehow find comfort in one another. She infused her book with literary snippets that entertain the knowing adult and whet the reading appetites of youngsters." Eleanor Edmondson, Bas Bleu, Bookseller-by-Post
This is the story of a writer and a reader. The writer is a person. The reader is a rat. They share an old house on Long Island, but have never met. Walter, the rat, would love to know Miss Pomeroy, the writer. Miss Pomeroy is an irritable recluse and has no desire to know ANYONE. How these two lonely creatures discover one another is the essence of this story.
About the Author
Barbara Wersba is the author of thirty books for young people, including her novel Tunes for a Small Harmonica: A Novel, a National Book Award nominee. A reviewer for the New York Times Book Review for many years, Wersba has also written for the stage and television. She lives in Sag Harbor, New York, where she runs a small publishing company called The Bookman Press.
Donna Diamond has illustrated numerous children's books as well as many book jackets. She lives in Riverdale, NY.
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