Thursday, July 15, 2010

Amazing Rats: Booktalks 1-3

[The three titles I’m booktalking are Walter: The Story of a Rat by Barbara Wersba; Oh, Rats! The Story of Rats and People by Albert Marrin; and The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin.]

[For Walter: The Story of a Rat, since you’re doing first person narration, slip on costume mouse/rat ears if you have them, or costume mouse whiskers, if you have them. Hold the book up so they can see the cover]

My name is Walter. I’m a rat, not a mouse. I see all of you looking at me with horror and contempt! A rat! In the library! You humans are so vain. I’m not so very different from you. I’m clean, I’m quiet, and I can even read and write. I’m trustworthy and honest, for the most part. And I don’t trust you all, either. Well, there’s one of you I trust. See, I live by myself in the house of a famous children’s author. I read her books – especially the ones she herself has written – quietly at night. I like them so much that I even wrote her a letter. This is what I wrote: My name is Walter. I live here, too. To my great surprise, my friend the author wrote me a letter back. It had only two words: I know.
What else did she know about me? Find out in my unusual story: Walter: The Story of a Rat by Barbara Wersba.

[Take your whiskers off. Or leave them on. Your call. Hold up your next book, Oh, Rats! The Story of Rats and People by Albert Marrin.]

Walter was a special rat. But rats and people really do have a lot in common. Like us, rats are mammals, they’re smart, they have good memories, and they are survivors. Did you know that a rat can get flushed down a toilet and live? It can even squeeze through a pipe the size of a quarter! Everything about a rat is built for survival: its body, its jaws, its senses. Rats can and will eat anything, and a lot of it! If a rat were the size of your average adult, it would eat 16 pounds of food a day! Rats are uncannily bright, too. They can figure out how to get through mazes with record speed. So if you want to figure our more about what you have in common with rats, I urge you to check out Oh, Rats! The Story of Rats and People by Albert Marrin.

[Hold up your next title, The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin.]

Okay, so the rat is pretty amazing. The rat is often disliked in America, but he’s liked in China. In this book, Pacy [also called Grace] and her family are celebrating the Chinese New Year, the year of the rat. They’re having a great time, eating wonderful food and enjoying themselves, and Pacy’s dad explains to her that in Chinese culture, the rat is seen as charming and smart. Well, what does that have to do with Pacy? She finds out that her best friend Melody is moving – far away. This is devastating news to Pacy. She is heartbroken. She’s afraid she’ll be all alone at school, and it terrifies her. Yet the year of the rat also symbolizes a fresh start, a new beginning. Without her best friend, Pacy’s year could be exhilarating or terrifying – or maybe both. If you’ve ever experienced the loss of a friend, try reading The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin.

[Optional three-book wrap up.] So, as you can see, rats are complex, intelligent animals with a long history. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re pretty amazing!

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