By Author / Illustrator
David Fickling Books
Paperback / softback
Can a timid rat ever become a hero? Tilbury is about to find out on the adventure of a lifetime, journeying across the sea to the realm of the dreaded White Death, to return a priceless diamond to its rightful owners. A marvellous adventure begins and a truly intrepid hero is born . . .
Moonflight is a story of adventure and bravery, a quest, a cursed diamond and two little rat siblings called Tilbury and Nimble-Quick. Tilbury is the seventh born rat of the seventh born litter and that rat is always in want of adventure.
Tilbury and Nimble-Quick have to leave the Dockland Rats and take the cursed diamond back where it belongs, over the sea and to strange lands where cats are huge and other rats dangerous. This quest will test them to the limits and create new heroes in the land of rats.
Moonflight is a wonderful creation, a fantastical land where humans feature only in passing and everything is about the world the rats inhabit. The adventure is breath-taking and the story gallops along from one climax to the next. I was sorry when it finished, having read it in almost one sitting. I loved the characters, each rat was individual and interesting. Tilbury and Nimble-Quick learn what is important and what is true, as well as the history of their own rat families. The illustrations by Pippa Curnick are a real highlight for me, and they bring the characters vividly to life. I particularly loved the front pages with the characters individually introduced - and, of course, the map!
This would make a great read aloud story, I would love to read this to a class, with all the scope for voices and finishing each day with a 'doof-doof' moment.
320 pages / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
It is not easy to entice readers into starting a book about rats, as they don't exactly have a good press, but Gill Lewis has done just that in Moonflight. She has created an entire world in which the various tribes of rats battle to save their reputation in an exciting and simply marvellous story.
Tilbury, one of the Dockland Rats, is the seventh son in the seventh litter and is seemingly frail and much protected by his mother, but he is intelligent and wants to fly and, together with his sister Nimble-Quick, is determined to make this happen. But the tribe is under a curse as in the past Great Bartholomew is said to have stolen the Cursed Night diamond, which is kept in a gilded cage beneath the docks where the Dockland Rats live. No rat has ever been able to open the cage but Tilbury does and thus is chosen to return the diamond to its home in the City in the Clouds, home of the Golden Rats. Tilbury with Nimble-Quick, Marfaire the Keeper who has the map of how to get there in her head, and Yersinia whom they do not trust but insists on coming, set off by ship on an arduous journey to return the diamond and life the curse.
This is in essence a classic quest story but that description does not do it justice as Gill Lewis has created an intricate world for the rats, with their customs and history. The ceremony in the Great Hall with its hierarchy of rats; the portrayal of the class system of the society created by the Golden rats, where the Sand Rats are slaves and treated as such, and where women are second class citizens, all have an echo of our own society. The details of the life of the rats with their markets, their meals and clothes and how Ma loves to dress up and is bought jewels by her husband, all make for a world into which the reader can dive and live in, only to come out feeling enriched by such a story.
The reader cheers at the end as Tilbury has become his own rat and makes a huge decision for his tribe and race. This is surely a contender for a prize, at least one if not more!
320 pages / Reviewed by Janet, librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+