The best children’s books with rat or mouse adventures

Why am I passionate about this?

Since writing a middle-grade novel about a lab rat living on the International Space Station, I was curious to see how other authors tackled the challenge of creating stories about talking rats and mice. After all, these rodents are not generally popular in real life. What exciting approaches did others use to get past this dilemma? I wanted to see how they balanced the ideal—being true to the nature of a species—while constructing original characters in challenging situations. Analyzing how other writers succeed is always useful.


I wrote...

Mortimer: Rat Race to Space

By Joan Marie Galat,

Book cover of Mortimer: Rat Race to Space

What is my book about?

A spot on the International Space Station has opened up, and Mortimer, the journal-keeping lab rat, is not about to miss his chance to prove rats are better suited than humans when it comes to colonizing Mars. 

Mortimer sets out to expose the impracticality of human astronauts by conducting experiments and recording the evidence for YouTube. As far as he’s concerned, pellet-eating rats are much easier to feed than fussy humans. And just think of all the unwashed underthings floating around in space—especially when compared to the versatile rat tail! But when Mortimer’s schemes go awry, he is forced to face new truths about dreams, friendship, and choosing the right thing to do. Maybe not everything is a rat race.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Joan Marie Galat Why did I love this book?

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH tells the story of a widowed field mouse. She needs to move her family to the summer home before the farmer plows the ground, but her son Timothy is too ill to make the trip. Mrs. Frisby must force herself to step well beyond her usual abilities if she is to save his life. Her experience leaves one with a fresh perspective on the industrious lives of field mice and rats. This tale will hold the interest of any age and make a compelling read-aloud choice for families to enjoy together. As an author, I found the storytelling timeless and fully inspiring. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a winner of the John Newberry Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature.

By Robert C. O'Brien, Zena Bernstein (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Some extraordinary rats come to the aid of a mouse family in this Newbery Medal Award–winning classic by notable children’s author Robert C. O’Brien.

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a…


Book cover of Walter: The Story of a Rat

Joan Marie Galat Why did I love this book?

This is the tale of a writer and reader who share a house. The writer, however, is a reclusive human and the reader a rat longing for a friend. The author’s approach is clever and subtle. And while I’m naturally drawn to books about writers, it was the rat that captivated me. I read this book rather quickly. I had to know if Walter could find his way through the difficulty of loneliness. 

By Barbara Wersba, Donna Diamond (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Two lonely creatures find that companionship is closer than they thought in this charming tale of friendship

This is the story of a writer and a reader. The writer is a person. The reader is a rat. They share an old house on Long Island, but have never met. How these two lonely creatures discover one another is the essence of this story.


Book cover of Ratscalibur

Joan Marie Galat Why did I love this book?

Ratscalibur reveals what happens when a ragician turns grade seven student—Joey—into a rat. Joey becomes Ratscalibur when he pulls a spork from a dehydrated scone. The other rats are convinced he can help save their kingdom but Joey is not so confident. Still, if he wants the chance to become a boy again, he must help the rodents fight their devious enemies. Rich in humor, this book’s charm also comes from illuminating a character who is quite certain he’s not meant to be a hero. This novel is full of original twists that will keep readers turning pages.

By Josh Lieb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ratscalibur as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President

“A witty mash-up of favorite fantasy motifs.”—New York Times Book Review

“Ratscalibur is funny, it’s scary, and it’s sweet, like life. But it has talking rats and magic, so it’s better than life.”—Jimmy Fallon

“Full of clever dialogue and hilarious puns...Don’t be surprised if this novel achieves best-seller status.” —Booklist

“The only way I could’ve liked this more is if I were eleven.”—Ira Glass

“A charming take on an old favorite.”—Publishers Weekly
 

When Joey is bitten by…


Book cover of The Rat Prince: A New Twist on Cinderella

Joan Marie Galat Why did I love this book?

This book is an enchanting takeoff on the Cinderella story. You might think you know what happens the night of the ball, but the author takes you in twisty new directions that explore things you can’t help but be curious about once they are presented to you. For example, how does a rat feel about being turned into a human for a night? Told through the voices of both Cinderella and Prince Char, readers meet a rat who turns out to be wise and compassionate, alongside a Cinderella that is fearless and inspiring. I like how the characters are richly developed, and the way humor and originality flow throughout this quick-paced, gripping adventure.

By Bridget Hodder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rat Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters moved into Lancastyr Manor, she was known as the beautiful Lady Rose de Lancastyr. Then her stepmother forced her to become a kitchen maid and renamed her. At first the rats of the manor figure her for a lack-wit and take pity on her by bringing her food and a special family heirloom. But when Cinderella's stepmother finds a way to prevent her from attending the ball, the rats join forces to help her. The night of the ball is filled with magic and secrets - not least of all who Lady Rose will choose…


Book cover of The Tale of Despereaux Trade Book

Joan Marie Galat Why did I love this book?

The Tale of Despereaux is the story of an unlikely hero. It reveals what happens when an overly tiny mouse with big ears dares to be different. He is fascinated by light, music, and a book left open in the library, but his peers do not approve. When Despereaux falls in love with the princess, the other mice condemn him to the dungeon. This usually means death, but Roscuro the rat intends to harm the princess, and Despereaux is determined to stop him. I enjoyed how the motivations of the key characters were subtly revealed, then brought together in clever and surprising ways. Every detail was included for a reason, making for a most satisfying read. Unable to stop, I read this modern fairy tale in one sitting.

By Kate DiCamillo,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Tale of Despereaux Trade Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

A heartwarming young adventure story, winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal.

A deftly crafted fairy tale adventure story from a New York Times bestselling author, twice winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal. Here, reader, is the tale of a tiny, sickly mouse with unusually large ears; a mouse who takes his fate into his own hands. It is the tale of a beautiful, flaxen-haired princess who laughs often and makes everything around her seem brighter. It is the tale of a poor, deaf serving girl who entertains foolish dreams of splendour. It is a tale of impossible love, of bravery…


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Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

Book cover of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

What is my book about?

Weird Foods of Portugal describes the author's first years trying to make sense of a strange new place and a home there for herself.

Witty, dreamlike, and at times jarring, the book sizzles with social commentary looking back at America and beautiful, finely drawn descriptions of Portugal and its people. Part dark-humor cautionary tale, part travel adventure, ultimately, Hermance's book of narrative non-fiction serves as affirmation for any who wish to make a similar move themselves.

Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

What is this book about?

"Wendy Lee Hermance describes Portugal´s colorful people and places - including taxi drivers and animals - with a poet´s empathy and dark humor. Part travel adventure, part cautionary tale, Weird Foods of Portugal is at it´s heart, affirmation for all who consider making such a move themselves."


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in rats, fairy tales, and heroes?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about rats, fairy tales, and heroes.

Rats Explore 17 books about rats
Fairy Tales Explore 293 books about fairy tales
Heroes Explore 103 books about heroes