Title: I Was a Rat! or The Scarlet Slippers.
Author: Philip Pullman.
Genre: Fiction, children's lit, humour.
Publication Date: April 1, 1999.
Summary: “I Was a Rat!” So insists a scruffy boy named Roger. Maybe it’s true. But what is he now? A terrifying monster running wild in the sewers? The Daily Scourge is sure of it. A victim of “Rodent Delusion”? The hospital nurse says yes. A lucrative fairground freak? He is to Mr. Tapscrew. A champion wriggler and a budding thief? That’s what Billy thinks. Or just an ordinary small boy, though a little ratty in his habits? Only three people believe this version of the story. And it may take a royal intervention—and a bit of magic—to convince the rest of the world.
My rating: 6/10
This is becoming a crime-ridden country - and it's official.
Crime figures have risen for the fifth year in succession.
Typical of the sort of lawlessness all too common today is the break-in at the home of the Earl and Countess of Ditchwater by a gang of young boys, all of whom were luckily caught red-handed.
"I blame the teachers," said the Home Secretary.
Anarchy in the classrooms
But teachers are finding it harder and harder to maintain order and discipline over the bullies and thugs in the classroom.
"There is no respect for leaning anymore," said a teachers' leader. "I blame the parents."
The traditional family is under threat. Family values have crumbled away. Changing working patterns, taxation, and violent entertainment are playing havoc with all the old certainties.
"There's no one to give a moral direction anymore," said a parent. "I blame the Church."
A moral vacuum
But the Church itself speaks with an uncertain voice.
"How can anyone be moral in a world of poverty under the constant threat of war and environmental devastation?" said the Archbishop. "I blame the Government."
All out so-called experts are wrong, as usual.
Dripping and moaning about the state of the world and blaming everyone else - is it any wonder that our country is in a mess, with people like that in charge of it?
As for the rise in juvenile crime, it's easy.
The kids are doing it, aren't they?
Then there's no need to look any further.
♥ "I dunno. I expect I forgot, but I'm not sure. If I could remember whether I'd forgot it, I'd know if I had, but I probably forgot without remembering it."
♥ "Yes, but you didn't really change, did you? You were a boy all the time. Perhaps you thought you were a rat. But rats can't -"
"I never thought at all when I was a rat! I just was! So I never though I was a rat. I never started thinking till I was a boy. But it's making me confused. I hope I don't get irritated."
♥ On the one hand, he was with the Philosopher Royal, who was sure to be looking after him properly, but on the other hand, the man had said he'd bring Roger back, and he hadn't.
And on the third hand, there was the fact that Bob and Joan never had a child to look after before, and didn't know what to expect or whether they ought to worry. And on the fourth hand, there was the fact that they were worrying about him already because they were very fond of him, strange as he was.
It was a good thing they only had four hands between them, or they'd have been even more worried.
♥ "I'll come with you," said Joan. "I can't bear sitting waiting."
"Funny, innit," said Bob, "we been sitting by this fire for thirty-two years, but it never seemed like waiting before.
♥ "...I don't like rats any more than the next bloke, but they ain't wicked and cruel like people can be. They're just ratty in their habits."
♥ "Don't you want to be a princess, Mary Jane?"
"Well, I did to start with. I longed for it. I wished so hard! But I'm not sure anymore. I'm so afraid I made a mistake, Roger. I might have been better off staying Mary Jane. See, I don't think it's what you are that matters. I think it's what you do. I think they'd like me to just be, and not do anything. That's the trouble."
♥ "Ah," said Bob. "And do you want to be a rat now?"
"It'd be easier," said Roger. "You have less trouble being a rat, except for being sterminated. I wouldn't want that. It's hard being a person, but it's not so hard if they think you are a person. If they think you ain't a person, then it's too hard for me."