A boy turns up on an elderly couple's doorstep claiming that he used to be a rat. Despite the fact that he knows nothing about How To Be A Human, the couple take him in and try to look after him, but his ignorance frequently lands him in all kinds of trouble.
To be honest, I found this book...insidious. Its story tells us frequently to take things for what they seem to be and not overanalyse (because that's a good message for life), but the book itself is not what it seems to be. It's not until halfway through that we realise that I Was A Rat! is not a new fairytale but a retelling of Cinderella. It deliberately hides its true nature, and at the same time tells us not to look for it. Is there something I'm missing here, or does this seem a bit odd?
It's undoubtedly a story that's doing a lot beneath the surface, as many of Pullman's books do, thinking about identity and the nature of words and what stories are and why wishes don't always come true, and in that respect it's certainly interesting and complex and worthy of discussion. But I wouldn't recommend it wholeheartedly; I think it pretends to a progressiveness it doesn't really deserve.