A murky past;Children's books

23rd April 1999 at 01:00
Roger in Philip Pullman's latest, I Was A Rat! (Doubleday pound;10.99), is like Bartleby in Herman Melville's story, who preferred to say nothing except: "I would prefer not to".

Roger responds "I was a rat!" to every enquiry about his past, after turning up unannounced on the doorstep of Bob and Joan, a kind-hearted old pair.

Pullman's plays on words provoke the reader to think carefully about the way language is used. "He didn't say I am a rat, he said I was a rat," Bob explains at one point to a befuddled clerk. The text is interspersed with witty front pages from The Daily Scourge and evocatively illustrated by Peter Bailey.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today