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Title: Malcolm at Midnight
Author: WH Beck (link)
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Illustrations: Brian Lies
Pub Date: September 2012
Synopsis: Malcolm is a rat who is constantly mistaken for a mouse due to his smallish size. And when a fifth-grade teacher purchases him from the Pet Emporium for his class, Malcolm quickly learns that rats have a terrible reputation. While sneaking out of his cage for snacks, Malcolm runs into the Midnight Academy, a ragtag group of classroom pets with a mission to keep the school and its nutters (students) safe from harm.
As the mysteries of the McKenna School begin to unfold, a key member of the Academy goes missing, and a twisted plot to take revenge on the students is unveiled. Malcolm must prove that he is more than the rat that everyone makes him out to be, both to himself and everyone else.
First Line: It began with a rat.
Before you slap your forehead and groan, "not another talking rodent book," know this: Malcolm at Midnight has a really fun twist. A super fun twist! The animals at McKenna School formed a secret society of classroom pets to protect the students that care for them. And who doesn't love a secret society?
From the first page, I was entranced by the voice in this book. The story is narrated by one of the students at McKenna School in a long winded letter to the teacher, letting him know how his missing engagement ring wound up back on his desk. But the missing ring is just the tip of the iceberg. There's loads of mystery that takes many twists and turns, but ends up wrapped up superbly in the end. Which is why it is not surprising that this was one of the five buzziest middle grade books featured at BEA this year. Get excited to fall for Malcolm when it comes out this fall!
Nubbins and Gristle: The animals in this book communicate in English, but with dialect that is all their own. One thing kids will really enjoy is learning the language of the classroom pets.
Why You'll Love Malcolm: Being a rat of valor and merit doesn't come naturally to all critters, but it certainly does for Malcolm. Though he gets into frequent jams and is flushed down the toilet more than once, Malcolm proves again and again that good intentions and character are what define you, not which species you were born in.
Want to find more marvelous middle grade books? Here's a list of MMGM bloggers with more recommendations!