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Rat Rule 79: An Adventure
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Rat Rule 79: An Adventure

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  49 reviews
From the  New Yorker  “20 Under 40” author of  Atmospheric Disturbances  comes a brain-twisting adventure story of a girl named Fred on a quest through a world of fantastical creatures, strange logic, and a powerful prejudice against growing up.

Fred and her math-teacher mom are always on the move, and Fred is getting sick of it. She’s about to have yet another birthday
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by Restless Books
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  175 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Jasmine from How Useful It Is
I love the activities Fred and her mom play with paper and pen. This adventure book is interesting. I like Downer the elephant because he's not afraid to fail so he's not afraid to try new things. I like that this story promotes thinking outside the box because of word play between Fred and the Owl. Fred's favorite meal of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches on raisin bread is really out there.

This book is told in the third person point of view following Fred, 12 going on 13 as she sat down to
Peter Tillman
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I pretty much don't need to write a review, since my new (I hope) BBFF@GR has already done it. With a good sampling of Elena Megalos's wonderful art, too!
And I really like the mathematical games the group gets into in Wonderland! I have to borrow my wife's copy when she isn't looking, so this may take awhile. . . 😎

OK, it's a kid's book. It didn't always make sense, exactly -- but the art carries the book. Recommended.
I do not trust adult novelists. Not, as a general rule, when they start dipping their toes into the world of children’s literature. I am interested, in their attempts, yes, and, truth be told, I am more inclined to pick up their books than with a hitherto unknown writer. Yet time and again I am disappointed by the results. I am not saying that an adult novelist is incapable of writing well for children. Neil Gaiman seemed to figure it out. Catherynne Valente is passable. But on the whole, thes ...more
Jacob Hoefer
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Why not, 5 stars. It's weird, wild and whitty. A little Lemony Sniket a little Lewis Carroll, with a lot of heart. Fred is a very possible 12 year old set into the land of impossibility and tasked with finding the Rat Queen and her mom and the Rat Queen's Hart. (not in that order if Fred got her way) I was wholeheartedly won over by this book. The illustrations are very fun and yet elegant and subtle. I do have some minor complaints, like how we never really get to spend that much time with Fred ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
The premise of Rat Rule 79 was incredibly cool and reminded me of the books I liked to read as a kid. It would be easy to create an alternate world full of characters who speak both bizarre statements and truth that felt like an Alice's Adventures in Wonderland rip-off. Somehow Rat Rule 79 feels entirely original in its quirky nonsense.

The concept of Fred going on this journey with several friends began to feel a bit tired towards the 75% mark. It at times felt like the author was more interest
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life, humor, not-graphic, j
A new classic that deserves shelf space next to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth, this is a delightful plunge into absurd logic, nonsense, and wordplay that includes wisdom and insight along with the fun. I can't wait to read it again and share it with my kids when they're old enough. I hope I get a Round Tuit soon. Maybe someone will give me one for my birthday. ...more
Emma Kantor
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
'The Phantom Tollbooth' meets 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.' A sweet and sour pickle of a fable. ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Rat Rule 79 has a lot of promise, and it almost delivers.

Fred, a precocious girl on the cusp of adulthood, is frustrated at her mom for a variety of very good reasons. She also is nervous about her upcoming birthday. When Fred goes to sleep that night, she steps into a dream-world where her mother has vanished and Fred herself has been imprisoned. She goes through a variety of adventures, meets some good new friends, and learns the true meaning of family.

This book reminded me of Alice in Wonderl
An Alice in Wonderland for our time.
Miz Lizzie
Fred is angry at her mother for moving them to yet another new town, this time just before her birthday. Going to bed mad, Fred can't fall asleep. Sneaking out of her bedroom to get a snack she sees her mother going through an enormous paper lantern that wasn't there before and disappearing. Of course, Fred follows. Though she never does find her mother, she does find a strongly allegorical world populated by talking animals and ruled by a missing Rat who has imposed many rules included #79 that ...more
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Cute adventure tale. It wants to be clever and eccentric—and sometimes succeeds—but it doesn’t quite hold up to the comparative hype. There’s just something effortful about its idiosyncrasies. All those other titles (The Phantom Tollbooth, Alice and Wonderland, the Lemony Snicket books, and I would add everything by Catherine Valente) seem a lot less affected in the way they inhabit the absurd.

Still, a fun read with or for kids.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
In a not so subtle nod to the late L. Frank Baum, Galchen creates an impossible land, filled with some charming creatures that help a 12 year old girl find the right way to get back home. Danger and unreason are defeated by logic and love. Original and beautiful illustrations by Elena Megalos. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Caroline Mickey
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
It's okay. I don't usually care much for nonsense novels like Alice in Wonderland, but this is one works well. It's a little tedious, and there are a lot of math references. Not my jam, but good enough ...more
Jul 05, 2019 marked it as tried-to-read
I love the illustrations. They’re kind of dry, and serious, and like antique urns. The story is like Phantom Tollbooth, Lemony Snicket, and Alice in Wonderland all smashed up and slightly drunk. I found myself both enjoying it and rolling my eyes a little.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Riffs heavily on The Phantom Tollbooth and Alice in Wonderland. Has some good points to make about how adults construct children, but overall a bit low energy for my tastes.

Reviewed for
Lillian Hayward
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a true delight
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yabc-reviews
See my full review here:

RAT RULE 79 is charming, ridiculous, and completely engaging. Fred is about to turn thirteen in a new place, as she and her mother keep moving. She does not have any friends yet and feels completely awkward, to the point that she would rather just not have a birthday party. After she goes to bed, she decides to come back and speak with her mother some more, when she sees her mother dressed for a party, stepping through a large pape
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
very clever writing for young readers. Galchen uses many "play on words" and references to other books and characters through out this book. I do think it drags on a bit though...there were many little clever sections I underlined.. The chapter headings are unusual. The story of Fred and her mother and their relationship has similar threads to both Wizard of Oz and Alice In Wonderland..
Fred is upset because she and her mother keep moving and now with this new move just before Fred's birthday, sh
3.5-4 stars. This is Wonderland and Oz for the 21st century. Fred is 12 years old and it's the eve of her 13th birthday. She and her mother have moved yet again, and yet again she finds herself in a new place with no friends. After an argument, Fred retreats to her unfamiliar bedroom only to re-emerge to see her mother step into a lantern and disasppear. She follows and finds herself in what only be a dungeon with an elephant in the room. And so it goes. There are ridiculous rules, strange being ...more
Feb 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, j-books
I think I might have liked this more had I read it on my own and not with my almost-6-year-old, but it was still fun and worked really well reading aloud (I imagine the audio version is good). My kid seemed to like it for the adventure, though a lot of the clever word puns and references were above his head. He thought the chapter names were *hilarious* though. I'd actually like to read it again some day. Plus I can always get behind a character who loves peanut butter and pickle sandwiches as m ...more
Synthetic Vox
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: personal-library
The entire plot/ending was telegraphed from the beginning, so I had to give it three stars. I honestly found the ending so bad. Serious character points (the mother: her neglect, her unwillingness to tell her daughter her work/relocation plans, her unwillingness to be supportive) left completely unresolved.

The word play and quirky chapter titles were good.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored reading this children’s book. It’s a tale like many we’ve read—a young Alice-like figure lost in a fantastical world and learning what growing-up means; but it’s told with such wit and style and humor. It reminds me a lot of The Phantom Tollbooth mixed with a hint of Alice. Such a delight. Lots of wordplay and some silliness, mixed with some darkness. A wonderful read.
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Swoon!! This book was so dreamy and lovely and clever and wise and made me cry and also laugh so much and made me feel lots of joy in my grown-up heart. I wish I had this book as a kid, but now I have it as a grown-up who teaches little kids, so that’s even better. 100% the best book I’ve read this year and in many years!
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Overall, I found this book delightful and original. The math signposts and wordplay are reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth. The illustrations and formatting were captivating. My only complaint was the ending. As an adult reader, it felt a bit lazy, but I suspect my students won't mind and I will definitely recommend this book to them. ...more
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this fun fantasy book aloud jointly with my 10-year-old. (Sometimes we alternated pages, sometimes chapters.) It reminds me a lot of Alice in Wonderland - great for kids interested in wordplay and logic and number games - and is an excellent middle grades novel selection. The ending felt a little abrupt, but we still loved it!
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For fans of the weirdness and wordplay of Alice In Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz, and the Phantom Tollbooth, with deliciously short chapters. I would have bought this based on the chapter titles alone.
Carina Shephard
I appreciated the wordplay elements and the beautiful, simplistic illustrations, but otherwise didn’t care for it. Kids who enjoy puns (like me) and Alice in Wonderland- type scenarios (not me) would probably enjoy it more.
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
It was ok. Too many mentions of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. Certainly some of those should have been edited out. I do plan to read Galchen’s adult novel though, which I know is what she’s mostly known for.
Claudia Maye
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books is Alice in Wonderland and this took me to that similar place. It is quirky, fun, childlike, silly, heartfelt, and just plain fun. I would suggest this to just about any kid who appreciates nonsense (not many kids don't like nonsense). ...more
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This one belongs in the company of Alice and The Phantom Tollbooth. Excellent nonsense, puzzles, and wordplay. Reads as a little bit as a love letter from parent to child, with self knowledge and an apology for some of the things parents get wrong.
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Rivka Galchen (born 1976) is a Canadian-American writer and physician. Her first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, was published in 2008. She currently is an adjunct professor in the writing division of Columbia University's School of Art. In 2010, she was chosen as one of the 20 best writers under 40 by The New Yorker. ...more

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