By Tor Seidler, author of many children’s books including Gully’s Travels, Mean Margaret, The Wainscott Weasel and A Rat’s Tale.
Of all the novels for young readers I’ve written, my favorite in many ways remains one of my earliest: A Rat’s Tale. Montague Mad-Rat has been around for almost 25 years now, which in rat years would make him pretty old and wizened, I suppose.
But I like to think of him as the same shy young rat who collects feathers for his mother’s rat hats in Central Park and who, when he falls in love for the first time, worries that his ears aren’t symmetrical. Montague is an artist. He paints pictures of things he finds and sees in Central Park on seashells brought him by his globe-trotting aunt Elizabeth.
Unlike his aunt, Montague has never left the city, even on vacation. He’s a true-blue New Yorker. Luckily for him, New York is a rich and varied world unto itself, a treasure trove for someone with an aesthetic sensibility like his. He has a keen interest in birds—he collects their discarded feathers for his mother and uses the nibs as his paintbrushes—and an even keener interest in art.
Though Montague lives with his rather eccentric family in a sewer, the rat he falls in love with, Isabel Moberly-Rat, lives on a Westside pier, and so he’s also developed a great liking for the waterfront.
Here are some of Montague’s very favorite spots.