Archive for the ‘rats’ Category

Halloween rat artist

October 30, 2008

If you know about my book The Truth about Rats (and dogs), you’ll know how appropriate it was for me to discover that this pumpkin, left out in my yard, had been carved into an almost perfect jack-o-lantern (minus the nose and mouth) by a rat. Yes, a jack-o-lantern carved by a rat.


(Here is a link to a previous posting about rats.)

Happy Year of the Rat!

February 5, 2008

rat novelMy novel The Truth About Rats (and Dogs) talks about rats and about Chinese New Year, so I couldn’t let the start of the Year of the Rat pass without blogging about the occassion. So, Gung Hay Fat Choy! (or Gong Xi Fa Cai!).

People who were born under the sign of the rat (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996) are considered ambitious and hard-working – like their rodent counter-parts, who are diligent seekers of food. When rats sense food within reach, they will chew through almost anything to get to it. Similarly, when humans with this zodiac sign want something, they will as work as hard as a rat to achieve their goal. Apparently, 2008 will be a good year for rat people. Obstacles and setbacks can be overcome, and success is immanent (although it may be temporary).

I’ve been taking an online art class (cool concept and a lot of fun) with artist Karyn Gartel, and I’m using some of the techniques in the first few class assignments to make some Year of the Rat art, which I’ll post here as soon as it’s done. In the meantime, you can click here for last year’s Chinese New Year post and art or click here for a past rat post.

And here’s my Year of the Rat art:
Year of the Rat art 

Starring George, the rat!

December 4, 2006

book launch, me with George the ratI launched my new book this past Saturday at the Vancouver SPCA shelter. “The Truth about Rats (and dogs)” is the second novel in a series the SPCA asked me to write about kids and animals. The first book, “Dog House Blues,” which came out last year, was also launched at a shelter event. I had three dogs as special guests at that one (rats, of course, at this one).

The highlight of last year’s event was when the dogs all ran to the front of the room where I’d been doing my reading, and my dog, Dylan, immediately (and messily) drank up my whole glass of water. The kids thought that was hilarious. The highlight of the recent launch was probably when George, the rat, escaped from my hands and scampered onto my back, where I couldn’t reach him (see above photos). George the ratI’d like to think the best part was when I read from my book, but as usual, I was upstaged by the non-human guests!

(George, in the photo on the left, has been living at my house for the past few weeks, along with his brother, Sneaker. They are both available for adoption at the Vancouver shelter. Believe it or not, rats are becoming more popularly adopted pets than the dogs and cats.)

 You can read a different perspective on the launch and see more photos at

The truth about rats

December 1, 2006

Like crows, rats are another sometimes maligned species. They are associated with disease and filth, considered dirty, sneaky, etc. Usually they get cast as the bad guy in children’s cartoons. Although, there are exceptions (the wise martial arts rat who teaches the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for example), and rats can have different significance in different cultures. If you are born in the Year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac, you are supposed to be charming and attractive to people of the opposite sex, as well as thrifty, honest and a hard worker.

Athough their public image may not be as bad as it once was, rats are examples of urban wildlife that we generally don’t enjoy catching sight of. Still, I do get a kind of covert thrill when I see a rat run along the underground part of the Skytrain tracks, and I imagine a whole secret world existing under the noses and feet of all the busy business people in the city above. I have to admit, though, that I don’t get the same thrill when I hear rats scrabbling around inside the walls of my house.

book coverWhen I was writing my latest novel for kids, “The Truth About Rats (and Dogs),” I fostered a rat from the SPCA shelter, so I could experience what pet rats were like and what it would be like to look after one. I found Oscar quite enjoyable and modeled the rat in my story after him. It did seem ironic, however, to be pampering a pet rat inside my house, while scheming of ways to get rid of the wild rats outside my house and in my walls. I’d be sitting at my computer in the basement writing my rat story, and a wild rat would scuttle along outside the window on his nightly rounds, as if to remind me of who the real owners of the city are.