The Road to Ratenburg by Joy Cowley, illus Gavin Bishop
An excellent read-a-loud novel for primary school children from one of the craftiest writers New Zealand has ever produced. I have just been listening to the Bee Gees singing “nobody gets too much heaven no more” and this book just slotted in so well.
Ratenburg is the rats Shangri la, their brigadoon and a place all rats want to go to. Spinnaker a Ship rat, his wife Retsina, a Greek restaurant rat, their four children Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta and an alleged pirate rat Jolly Roger, make the journey to find Ratenburg.
The journey is fraught with danger as they meet rataphobia from humming beans (human beings) and have to conquer the Sunsweep Lake full of rat eating eels, the Bottomless bog, the Forest of Perilous Pines and the swing bridge. But will they find Ratenburg?
The group of rats set off with enthusiasm but sometimes enthusiasm can make creatures careless.
Wonderfully told by Joy Cowley who has the narrator address the reader as “Dear Friend”. I loved being a dear friend and you and your children and students will too.
Gavin Bishop, who is well acquainted with rats, illustrates superbly, capturing important moments and characters, with his black and white pen and ink drawings.