'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 22 February 2015

Review: The Ratcatcher's Daughter

The year is 1900 and thirteen-year-old Issy McKelvie leaves school early to start her first job as a maid in an undertaking establishment.

With clear class distinctions, Issy’s entire family is now working to put bread on the table. Her father works on the wharves, but his job is unreliable, so he supplements his income working with his dogs as a ratcatcher. Business booms when the plague - the Black Death - arrives in Australia that year, caused by the fleas on rats.

As the disease starts to take its human toll, panic grows. The rats must be exterminated.  Issy loathes both rats and her father’s four yappy, snappy, hyperactive rat-killing terriers. But when her father becomes ill, it’s up to Issy to join the battle to rid the city of the plague-carrying rats. Issy finds that many things about the city’s control of the plague are not as they seem. As she discovers and pieces together various clues, Issy comes to realise that the real world is very different to the one she thought she knew.

I, like Issy, loathe rats. However I couldn’t go past the opportunity to read a Pamela Rushby book. Rushby has a way with words, like few others. She skilfully and effortlessly crafts a rich plot while plunging the reader deep into the story. She doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to detail. Having done extensive research, she delicately balances fact with fiction, all the while creating characters that are full of soul.

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter is an outstanding story about a little-known tragedy, making Australian history accessible to young readers. The Ratcatcher’s Daughter is not only an engaging read but it brilliantly compliments the teaching objectives based on the National Curriculum, creating a valuable teacher’s resource for all Australian classrooms.

Title: The Ratcatcher’s Daughter
Author: Pamela Rushby
Publisher: HarperCollins, $21.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 April 2014
Format: Soft Cover
ISBN: 9780732297138
For ages: 10-14
Type: Middle Fiction, Young Adult Fiction