Malcolm at Midnight
Malcolm at Midnight

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Annotation: Malcolm, a smaller than average rat, loves life at McKenna School and the secret society of classroom pets that keep children out of trouble, but when Aggy the iguana disappears Malcolm must use all of his ratty persistence to prove his innocence and save her.
Catalog Number: #72491
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition Date: 2012
Illustrator: Lies, Brian,
Pages: 265 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-547-68100-3 Perma-Bound: 0-605-72367-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-547-68100-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-72367-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2011048034
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
A small but intrepid classroom pet saves his school from a mad cat's revenge in this debut tale of wild doings in night-shrouded hallways. Newly arrived in Mr. Binney's fifth-grade class, undersized rat Malcolm quickly learns how to communicate with select students by pointing to words in a dictionary. He also figures out how to escape his cage at night and joins other similarly sprung mascots who, as the Midnight Academy, are the nighttime ears, eyes, nose, and whiskers of McKenna Elementary School. Along with offering amusing rat's-eye views of the daytime antics of the school's lankies (grown-ups) and nutters (children), the book sets Malcolm a double challenge. First, to find a way to overcome prejudice against rodents and, second, foil the schemes of vicious cat Snip to poison the school's water supply. Written as an extended report addressed by an anonymous student and accompanied by realistically detailed scenes of small animals in shadowy academic settings, this creature-feature leavens spookiness with healthy doses of whimsy.
Horn Book
Malcolm is a class pet who stumbles upon a midnight meeting of all the school's pets. But unlike the rest--rabbits, mice, fish--Malcolm is a rat, and rats have a bad rap. Malcolm struggles with his identity and escapes many close encounters to prove that he has McKenna School's best interests at heart. An age-appropriate if somewhat derivative story about believing in yourself and building meaningful friendships.
Kirkus Reviews
Malcolm is a small rat who is often mistaken for a mouse, which is both a blessing and a curse. As a fifth-grade "mouse" pet he has a comfortable cage, good food and a classroom full of interesting kids, and, amazingly, Malcolm discovers he can read! During nighttime explorations, he becomes part of the Midnight Academy, a group of varied creatures who are also classroom pets. They speak and have several sophisticated means of communication utilizing school bells, secret codes and even cellphones and computers. But there is a prowling, vicious rogue cat, and there have been thefts, disappearances and cases of vandalism. Malcolm is at the center of it all, always under suspicion but determined to use his rat abilities to act honorably. What follows is a breathless, exciting tale of adventure, danger, betrayal, twists and surprises. Beck unfolds the events in the form of an anonymous note to teacher Mr. Binney detailing Malcolm's journey, with clever and sometimes hilarious asides in the form of footnotes. Meditations on the nature of power and friendship are subtly and seamlessly woven within the plot. Lies' meticulously detailed illustrations in endless varieties of gray depict the highlights of Malcolm's adventures and capture each creature's individuality. Malcolm's mouse/rat appearance underscores the confusion as to his real species. A rip-roaring tale; even rodent haters will have to like Malcolm. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
Escapades, humor, and romance weave together in this madcap elementary school adventure from first-time author Beck. When fifth-grade teacher Mr. Binney mistakes Malcolm, a small rat, for a mouse and purchases him as a classroom pet, Malcolm develops an identity crisis. He soon learns that rats are held in low esteem by both humans and other animals, first from Mr. Binney-s read-aloud of The Tale of Despereaux (-Was that what people really thought of rats? That they are sneaky, conniving, lazy, greedy?-), and then when Midnight Academy members (pets from other classrooms) accept him only after he self-identifies as a mouse. Longing to prove his worthiness through -valor and merit,- Malcolm faces numerous challenges: Honey Bunny the rabbit-s distrust, Snip the cat-s evil plans against -the nutters- (children), and his forbidden friendship with fifth-grader Amelia. Lies-s (Bats at the Ballgame) detailed spot illustrations are a lively complement to the story, which is written in second person by an unnamed (but identifiable) narrator as an anonymous letter, complete with
School Library Journal
Gr 4&11;6&12; "A lot happens in a school when the teachers aren't looking." Malcolm the rat learns that very quickly when he is adopted as the pet for Mr. Binney's fifth-grade class. After everyone has gone home, the school comes alive with the activities of the Midnight Academy, a secret society of classroom pets that endeavors to protect the school. Malcolm is accepted into it on a trial basis but runs into trouble right away when its leader, an iguana named Aggy , goes missing. The other members blame Malcolm for the disappearance, so it becomes doubly important for him to find Aggy -to ensure her safety, and to clear his name. The story is a bit long-winded, but Malcolm is thoroughly likable, and the action sequences keep the pages turning. Lies's frequent illustrations, which are soft and expressive, do a lot to endear Malcolm to readers. Some aspects of the tale strain credibility, like how Malcolm communicates with a student by pointing to words in the dictionary, and some plot elements seem somewhat convoluted or poorly explained. Overall, though, the winsome illustrations and Malcolm's appealing character make this debut novel a satisfactory selection. It may also be a good choice for younger students who are reading above grade level yet aren't quite ready for heavier emotional or thematic content.&12; Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (9/1/12)
Horn Book (4/1/13)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (10/1/12)
Word Count: 48,182
Reading Level: 3.8
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.8 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 152926 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.2 / points:13.0 / quiz:Q59347
Lexile: 540L

Chapter 1
THE MOUSE

It began with a rat. There was also a glasses-wearing elderly iguana, a grumpy fish who could spell, a ghost in the clock tower, a secret message in the library, and a twisted evil that lived on the fourth floor of our school. But those'll all come later. First, there was a rat: Malcolm.

I know this'll surprise you, Mr. Binney, but yes, Mal­colm's a rat. I know because he told me so. Don't feel bad about bringing him to our class thinking he was a mouse. He is small. And that pimply clerk down at the Pet Emporium just wants to sell anything. I know--once he tried to convince me a goldfish was still alive even though it was floating upside down!

Remember, too--back then, last fall, you were kind of . . . distractible. Like a kid listening to his mom while Cartoon Network is blaring. Hearing, maybe, but not really listening. I know why now, but still. That must have helped the clerk's duplicity.

So, I suppose, in an effort to get down the whole story, I should share how it happened. How Malcolm came to stay in Room 11 with us fifth-graders. I know you know this part, Mr. Binney, but I suppose it's important to tell the whole story.

Malcolm's story.

Malcolm doesn't remember much before the Pet Empo­rium. Maybe he was born there. He does know that he used to be in a cage with lots of other rats. But they all got sold. People want their money's worth, and the tiniest rat isn't the one to pick. Of course, when you're being sold as feeder rats, maybe that's not the worst thing.

So, Malcolm was the lone rat in his cage when you walked in that day, Mr. Binney. You came in for fish food, but somehow you found yourself stopped in front of the "Pocket Pets" section, jiggling a little square box in your hands. Every few minutes, you cracked it open and peeked inside.

Malcolm was racing on his wheel. He's very fast. Maybe you weren't really looking at him, but you have to admit, there's something about Malcolm that catches the eye.

The pimply-faced clerk noticed your pause. "Can I help you?" he asked. "Hey, don't you teach at McKenna School? I used to go there."

You jerked a little, snapped the box shut, and shoved it in your pocket. "Um--what? Yes, yes, I do." You pointed at Malcolm. "Cute .  . . mouse. That brown splotch on his back almost makes him look like he's wearing a cape."

"Mouse?" The clerk frowned and chomped on his gum. He glanced at the cage, then the frown switched to a slick smile. He slid in front of the sign that read rats, $2.99 each and rolled his gum to the other side of his mouth. "Yes, he is a handsome one. You know, ra--mice make great classroom pets. And they're quiet and don't take up much room. Smart, too."

You both watched as Malcolm started licking himself. All over.

The clerk cleared his throat. "And, well--clean."

Malcolm finished grooming his tail. He considered your conversation. Whatever a "classroom" was probably was preferable to being sold to the next python owner.

Malcolm put his paws up on his food dish and stared at you. You've maybe never noticed, Mr. Binney, but Malcolm's got very intelligent eyes. Shiny dark brown, like steaming coffee. He added a little squeak.

You nodded. "Yes. Maybe. What kinds of supplies would I need?"

The clerk cracked his gum and grinned. "Well, let me show you our selection of cages and water bottles over here . . ."

And that was how Malcolm came to live in Room 11 at McKenna Elementary School in Clearwater, Wisconsin. With a three-story deluxe cage, a fleece-lined Comf-E-Cube, a tail-safe plastic exercise wheel, and a drip-free, antibacterial water bottle.

By the way, Malcolm wants to thank you for all that.


Excerpted from Malcolm at Midnight by W. H. Beck
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

When Malcolm the rat arrives as the pet at McKenna School, he revels in the attention. He also meets the Midnight Academy, a secret society of classroom pets that keeps the nutters (kids) safe. There's just one problem...rats have a terrible reputation! So when the Academy's iguana leader is kidnapped, Malcolm must prove his innocence--and that even rats can be good guys. Illustrated by Brian Lies of Bats at the Beach , this engaging middle-grade novel will have readers rooting for Malcolm as they try to solve the mystery alongside him.


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