192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
Rats, in general, do not have a good reputation for being friendly and kind, and The Ratbags are no exception. Their goal in life is to make trouble and to look for naughty things to do. They ream of mayhem and believe rules are for losers. Except for one – Jigsaw. He got his name because he does not fit in, like a puzzle piece that won’t squeeze into place no matter how much you twist and turn it. Jigsaw likes both rules and humans so he doesn’t fit in with the other rats and they shun him.
But things might change when a new pizza shop opens in town…
This is the second in this new series from the author of titles like Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables and this time he has joined with illustrator Shiloh Gordon to create a series that is likely to appeal to young boys, particularly those who don’t choose reading as their first choice for free time. With minimal text, cartoon-like illustrations, and lots of laughs, the story moves along at a fast clip more like an animated television program than a print resource, driven by the characters rather than events.
This time, having gained a reputation for being good because of rule-loving, leaf-collecting, piano-playing Jigsaw’s actions in the first book, the other Ratbags need to change this immediately and Ripple and Onion are the best ratbags for the job. But while performing some ratty mayhem, they fall into Cracker the cat’s claws… Will their midnight mischief turn them into a midnight snack? Or will Jigsaw find a way to save them? Again!
Despite the fun and naughtiness, just below the surface there are subtle messages about friendship, peer pressure and having the courage to stand your ground. ‘It’s not preached at all, but there’s a nice subtle message that we can be friends with other people, no matter what our belief system or no matter how different we are to them,’ says Tim Harris.
If the first one in the series captured your reluctant readers, they will be glad that this one is hot on its heels and there are at least two more to come… Best of Pets in July and Take Flight in September.