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Christmas Rat
Atheneum, 2002
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The Christmas Rat

He is one weird Christmas visitor—his hair and moustache an unearthly white-blond, his voice a gruff rumble. He fills the apartment doorway. From two metal cases he produces what a boy would expect from an exterminator: Toxic roach powders and poisonous fog bombs. But a crossbow?

Eric is fascinated at first. He's been bored this snowbound vacation, and has already zapped about a zillion Zergs. Antsy, he's even sneaked a look at the Christmas presents hidden beneath his parents' bed. Then Anje Gabrail, this exterminator, appears, talking a little madly about his war against rats—about killing them.

"The worst," Anje says. And if Eric sees one in the Eden Apartments, he is to call Anje's twenty-four-hour cell phone immediately. Later that Monday, the fourth day before Christmas, a rat does appear in the building's basement—and Eric finds himself suddenly, frighteningly swept into Anje's vengeful army.

As either partner … or victim.

With only a flashlight.

Story Behind the Story

I have always had a particular fondness for Christmas. It was (and is) a big family holiday; the gifts of course, both giving and getting, the pretty tree, food, and family reunions. It takes place in the after-glow of my late December birthday, which I share with my twin sister. New York City, where I was raised, always had a special feel around Christmas. There is too, not a small aspect, my annual reading of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. I am, in fact, quite sentimental about Christmas. read more

Awards and Honors:

Starred review, School Library Journal

Review

“For readers who want a different kind of holiday (or anytime) novel, fast paced and mystifying, with juicy moral dilemmas underpinning the unique plot, this is a surefire selection." (School Library Journal)

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