Being a former rat-owner, I just had to pick this book up when I saw it at the library. The cover has more adorable rodents on it than you can shake a stick at, and promises the reader a special treat. Luckily, the story inside delivers on that promise.
Frederick and Ishbu are two rat brothers who reside in Miss Dove's fifth grade classroom at Wilberforce Harrison Elementary School. Frederick constantly dreams of adventure, while Ishbu just dreams of his next meal.
When they are forced to flee for their lives, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, they taste freedom for the first time. Unfortunately, they now have to fend for themselves on the streets of San Francisco.
They eventually make their way to the docks, and meet up with a shady group of animals called the Bildgewater Brigade. Their operation is run by a blind opossum known as the Big Cheese and it turns out that he wants Frederick and Ishbu to steal a jewel called the Burmese Bandicoot for him.
They refuse, but are then led on a merry chase that leads them onto a ship called the General Custer. On board they meet a cat called Saltwater Molly, who helps them hide from the crew. It turns out, however, the crew is also on the lookout for the Burmese Bandicoot and is headed across the Pacific Ocean.
Due to a big storm, the brothers are tossed overboard and separated. Ishbu washes up on a tropical island that is home to Nana Matu, a secret temple run by and dedicated to rats, which is also the sacred resting place of the Burmese Bandicoot. Meanwhile, Frederick gets to live out his fantasies of being a sailor by drifting along on the Indian Ocean on a makeshift raft.
Eventually the brothers meet up again, and they are introduced to another castaway named Natasha. Frederick is immediately enchanted by this exotic beauty. But when the Burmese Bandicoot is stolen out from the temple and it's up to Frederick and Ishbu to retrieve it. After an eventful trip back across the Pacific Ocean the two rat brothers make it back to San Frisco. But are they in time to stop the Bildgewater Brigrade from putting the jewel to use in their nefarious plans?
While I am not the target audience for this story, I found it quite charming. There are many interesting little asides about rat behavior as well as educational tidbits about history and literature. You can tell this book was written by someone who knows about rats and teaching, and has a passion for both. If you have any children in grade school I highly recommend you check this book out.