Tor Seidler, acclaimed author of A Rat’s Tale, revisits the theme of community in this New York City adventure of a hapless squirrel named Phoenix.
Snatched from his wooded New Jersey home by a hawk named Walter, Phoenix is dropped onto the hot tar of a Manhattan construction site, where he escapes with his life but loses most of his fur—including his beautiful bushy tail. Phoenix has always despised the “naked worm-tail” of the rat, along with the creatures sporting them, but now finds himself forced to look anew at his prejudices. As the days pass, Phoenix comes to appreciate the highly organized community of wharf rats that comes together to nurse him back to health. There’s P. Pandora Pack-Rat, the wise matriarch healer, as well as the kind and friendly Lucy and her literary brother, the aptly named Beckett, who’s teaching himself to read (and write) from the various newspapers and past issues of The New Yorker the rats collect for winter heating.
Phoenix’s climbing abilities and Beckett’s communication skills come in handy when the community is threatened by a developer intent on demolishing the pier. Phoenix and his new friends hatch a daring protest and attempt to dismantle the nearby electric substation. Can the community be saved? Can it rally support among humans? And when the opportunity arises, will Phoenix return to his own kind or decide to make his home on the Hudson River?
While young readers will be enthralled by Phoenix’s adventures, which are enhanced by Gabriel Evans’ delightful illustrations, Oh, Rats!, also offers lots of opportunities for discussion about being part of a community and how neighbors come together in times of crisis.