Philip Pullman's I Was A Rat! is a delightful take-off on the fairytale, Cinderella, interspersed with hilarious articles from "The Daily Scourge" newspaper. Their satiric spin on the media will be appreciated by young and old: "As for the rise in juvenile crime, it's easy. The kids are doing it, aren't they? Then there's no need to look any further. BLAME THE KIDS!!!"
If you've ever wondered what happened to the creatures that were transformed into Cinderella's footmen and page, then this story will amuse and entertain you. One little lad who was having too much fun sliding down banisters with the page boys from the palace, missed Cinderella's coach back home. He finally wends his way through the town to the house of a childless couple called Bob and Joan (a cobbler and washerwoman), where he answers their questions with the phrase "I was a rat!"
They name him Roger for the son they never had and he proceeds to stumble through a series of misadventures, whilst eating pencils, tassels and miscellaneous other (usually inedible) items. There is a quality of innocence and ignorance to this rat-boy, who trusts a little too easily. He gets into trouble at school, and with the Philosopher Royal and his cat Bluebottle, he's put in a freak show, and then falls in with a gang of boy thieves. When he tries to go back to being a rat, people fear the "Monster of the Sewers" as the Daily Scourge dubs him, and it seems that Roger might end up being "Sterminated".
Before that fate can befall him, however, Cinderella, who used to be Mary Jane and is now the lovely Princess Aurelia, gets to meet up again with Roger the former rat, and they commiserate about their situations, which aren't quite as either one of them anticipated. But as Mary Jane concludes "I don't think it's what you are that matters. I think it's what you do."