Ratscalibur by Josh Lieb

Published by Razorbill

Summary:  Joey isn’t very excited about moving to the city, and isn’t much comforted when Uncle Patrick shows up with a gift—a new pet rat.  That night, though, the rat talks to Joey, and the next thing Joey knows, he has turned into a rat himself.  The rat sends him on a quest, and Joey the rat discovers the Lower Realm, a kingdom of rats and other creatures that lives throughout the city.  Joey notices that most of the rats are armed, so he decides to grab a plastic spork he sees stuck in a stale biscuit.  He pulls it out, and all the rats fall silent.  It turns out that spork is Excalibur, the Spork in the Scone, and the fact that Joey has pulled it out means he is destined to be a hero.  And the adventure begins….  Recommended for grades 3-6.

Pros:  I’ll admit, my expectations of a book called Ratscalibur penned by a TV writer were pretty low.  I was happily surprised by this exciting adventure story peopled (ratted?) with a cast of interesting characters.  The magic (or ragic, as it’s called in the rat world) has a complicated set of rules which were fun to learn about, and there’s a surprising twist near the end which seems to lay the groundwork for a sequel.

Cons:  Many of the Arthurian allusions will be lost on young readers.  Indeed, I have a feeling quite a few were lost on this older reader.

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