About the Holiday
In 2002 Robyn Archer and James Kitlock thought people should take another look at rats and recognize them for their endearing traits. They established World Rat Day to celebrate these rodents and promote the adoption of Fancy Rats as pets. Clean, smart, and devoted, Fancy Rats are beloved by many. How can you celebrate today? Why not hold a Rat Day party, read a book or watch a movie starring a rat, or if you’re looking for a new pet, check out your local shelter for these furry friends. To learn more about World Rat Day, visit the official website!
The Reliable Rodent
Guest Post by Mike Allegra
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am pro-rodent (or, as I prefer, “prodent”).
In elementary school, I took care of two four-legged gerbils and one three-legged gerbil. (The three-legged one was much faster than the four-leggers, by the way). In the years since, I have cuddled and cared for field mice, hamsters, one fancy rat, one sewer rat posing as a fancy rat, and the world’s most ornery guinea pig. My bucket list dream is to skritch a capybara’s belly. (A capybara, in case you don’t know, is the world’s largest rodent. Fully grown capys can be 100 pounds and nearly as big as a golden retriever.)
My prodent views can be found in my fiction. One of my picture books stars a mouse with a commanding grasp of the principals of scientific inquiry. In another picture book, I feature a guinea pig the size of a mastodon.
The more I work rodents into my stories, the more I realize that a rodent is The Best Picture Book Protagonist Ever. This discovery isn’t a revelation by any means; wee rodents have been helming stories since the days of Aesop and will continue to do so as long as children’s books continue to be published.
But here’s my take:
Three Reasons why Rodents are Perfect for Picture Books
Rodents Are Teensy-Eensy Tiny
Rodents are so very vulnerable. They’re surrounded by larger, stronger, more aggressive animals. And, jeepers, the world is just so dang big!
If that doesn’t describe kid-dom, I don’t know what does.
I’m 48 years old, yet I still remember the toddlerhood ordeal of having to reach waaaay above my head to grab a doorknob. I remember having to stand of a stool to peek over the lip of the bathroom sink. I remember everything being either too bulky or heavy to lift. And I remember how Mom could thwart me by putting the object of my desire inside The Top Cabinet. God, how I hated, hated, hated The Top Cabinet.
It seemed so unfair to be so little in such a large world. Rodents—mice, rats, guinea pigs, and the rest (except capybaras)—have to live in that world for their entire lives. They can embody the same frustrations and physical limitations that children know all too well.
Rodents Have Moxie!
I love the word “moxie” because it has so many great definitions. And every rodent adheres to every moxie definition:
Are rodents energetic? Lord, yes (except capybaras).
Resourceful? My Houdini Rat escaped from her cage six times (six times!). So, yeah!
Curious? The fact that my Houdini Rat explored the entire house before choosing to cuddle in my son’s bed is a big yup.
The “moxie” definitions apply to children, too. Who but a kid would jump from the highest monkey bar? Or run a half-mile to chase down the ice cream truck? Or ask questions both innocent and profound. Or find a hundred different ways to play with an empty cardboard box? Kids tick off all the moxie boxes. Rodents are their spirit animals.
Which leads to my final reason…
Rodents are Cuuuute!
All rodents are cute (especially capybaras). Sure a naked rat might take a little getting used to, but as soon as you see one washing his widdle face in a bathroom sink, the cuteness is oh, so apparent.
We go the extra mile for cute things, don’t we? Of course we do. That’s why we all tolerate (and often chuckle fondly) at all of our kids’ nonsense. And, really, who doesn’t wanna read about a cute something? I do! And you probably do, too!
Now, if you’ll forgive me, I gotta go. I’m calling dibs on a capybara picture book.
While Mike’s off doing that, you can check out this giveaway!
Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist Giveaway
I’m giving away a signed copy of Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist, written by Mike Allegra and illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel from Dawn Publications. It’s a story of excitement and experimentation in which Scampers and her friend Nibbles (who, by the way, are teensy-eensy tiny, have moxie, and are cuuuute) reclaim their vegetable patch from a wide-eyed owl.
To enter all you have to do is:
Leave a comment here on this post about your favorite kind of rodent or favorite literary rodent
Check out my Giveaway on Instagram. To enter just
- Like a giveaway post
- Follow me at celebratepicturebooks.
- Bonus: Comment with your favorite kind of rodent or your favorite literary rodent for an extra entry (each comment gives you one more entry)
This giveaway runs from April 4 through April 10 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST
Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only
Read my reviews of
Mike Allegra is the author of Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist, Everybody’s Favorite Book, the Prince Not-So-Charming series, and Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday.
To learn more about Mike Allegra, his books, and his other work, visit his website.
You can find Mike’s books at these booksellers:
Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist
Everybody’s Favorite Book
Prince Not-So-Charming: Once Upon a Prank (and the rest of the series)
Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday
Picture Book Review