Hero and the Sinking Ships by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn

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Hero and the Sinking Ships by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn

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Buy Hero and the Sinking Ships by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A splendid caper as Pa and Ma take their family of baby rats to a better life in the Tropics - via Murmansk. Highly recommended for the seven to ten age group.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: August 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747595564

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The Morgan Street Rats used to live in heaven – well, that's what it seemed like at the time. They lived in an attic above a gloriously filthy restaurant where they gorged themselves each night on the scraps that the lazy chef had left around and licked the dirty plates. All was well until the restaurant was closed down and the new owner had different standards and a cat called Snarl. Pa, Ma and the six baby rats determined that they would leave for somewhere warmer as soon as the babies were old enough to move. Pa dreamed of the tropics where there are warm sleepy lagoons, full of rotting vegetables. There is a delicious steamy heat, heavy with ripe smells. Fruit falls from the trees and rots on the ground.

And one day they started their journey. Well, they didn't really have much choice when the entire family fell out of the attic into a snowdrift. Geography is not Pa's strongest point and it was perhaps a little unfortunate that he picked a boat that was heading for Murmansk. Even more unfortunate was the fact that it was an old rust bucket that wasn't destined to stay afloat for very long and that was the first of the sinking ships on which Hero, one of the young rats, was to sail.

Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn are a classy combination. Hamilton doesn't just write a good story – he writes it well. There are some messages in there – rats do spread disease, it's best to be true to yourself and not try to be something that you're not, that some people are not what they seem and that there's a world of difference between being loved and being owned. It's all done with a light touch though – and with no preaching. The message will come through simply because it's part of a real page-turning story.

The characters come of the page. I don't like rats but I couldn't help but hope that all would be well for the Morgan Street family, who worked so hard to make everything come right. One of the reasons that the family is so endearing is the illustrations by Sam Hamilton. He captures their sense of fun, their place in the world and their vulnerability. There's one picture of Captain Oleg Olegovitch with his pet, Blossom the pig and Hero the rat which summed the situation up perfectly.

It's a book which is going to be a favourite with the seven to ten age group. There are some challenging words but the context and even the illustrations are going to help. The need to know what happens to the young rats will keep attention and it's a perfect book for those gaining confidence in their reading abilities.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Messrs Hamilton and Hearn have collaborated on several stand-alone books and we can recommend Jack Bolt and the Highwaymen's Hideout. Another classy combination is Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell – start with Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf.

Buy Hero and the Sinking Ships by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hero and the Sinking Ships by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Hero and the Sinking Ships by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hero and the Sinking Ships by Richard Hamilton and Sam Hearn at Amazon.com.

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