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    HarperCollins, 2001

    Maurice (a talking cat), Keith the stupid-looking kid, and a clan of intelligent talking rats have a good thing going. Keith can play the penny-whistle and the rats can manage a rat infestation better than anyone. The Pied Piper had nothing on their scam. At least until the rats' increasing intelligence starts to come with the price of a conscience. They finally agree on one last job--but the existing rat catchers in Bad Blintz (author Terry Pratchett (see more reviews of novels by this author) always picks good town names) have their own plots going and their schemes look like bad news for Maurice and the clan.

    Pratchett has created a tongue-in-cheek fairy tale set in his Discworld universe. The rats and Maurice struggle with the dawning of conscience--Maurice always gives his victims a chance to talk before he eats them, with their place in the world, and with the powerful rat-king who wants to use their power for war against the humans.

    Human characters, especially Keith and Malicia, play supporting roles but the animals are the real stars in this novel. Malicia's (often successful) attempts to create a story out of life frustrate Keith while providing worthwhile lessons (if you aren't making the story, you're a bit character in someone else's story) for both other characters and the readers. Overall, though, the rats--all given amusing names they selected from reading labels (Dangerous Beans is a favorite) are the most interesting characters and characters with the most compelling character arcs.

    I sat down to read THE AMAZING MAURICE AND HIS EDUCATED RODENTS, and didn't get up until I'd finished it--with a lot of laughs in the process. This novel probably won't change your life, but it just might.

    Four Stars

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