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Book Club Kits: Ratscalibur

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Josh Lieb

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Book Summary

When Joey is bitten by an elderly rat, he goes from aspiring seventh-grader to three-inch tall rodent.

At first, Joey is amazed by his new rat self. The city streets call to him at night. Smells that would have repelled him before are suddenly tantalizing. (A chicken bone? Yes! A squashed cockroach? Like perfume!) And wow, the freedom! But when a bout of hunger leads Joey to pull the spork from the scone, he finds himself at the center of a longtime rat prophecy.

Joey has unwittingly unlocked the sword Ratscalibur; and now, it is up to him to protect his new rat friends from the evil crows who seek to destroy their peaceful kingdom. But what does an eleven-year-old know about actual swordplay? And what happens when Joey no longer wants to be a rat?

Discussion Questions

Joey moves with his mom to a new city and he doesn’t feel at home yet. What kinds of things might Joey have to get used to living in the city? Have you ever moved? How did you feel about it?


Uncle Patrick brings Joey a rat for a pet. Would you want a pet rat? Why or why not? Would your parents allow you to have a pet rat?


Joey is startled and a little scared to hear his pet rat speak. How do you imagine you’d react if your pet suddenly spoke?


After Joey willingly offers his finger to Gondorff, he’s changed to a rat. What are some things you’d do if you were turned into a rat? Would you have offered your finger willingly?


Often in literature, a young boy goes on a quest to find something, usually an object of some kind, but the young boy usually learns something about himself. What other things did Joey find on his quest for Gondorff?


Would you like to go on a quest? What do you think you’d learn?


How is Joey affected by getting to know Gondorff, Brutilda, Parsifur, the Princess and the others?   


The rats have enemies, some are their own kind. What enemies do you imagine you’d have as a rat?  Are these enemies ones that naturally are enemies to rats? Do you have enemies?


The rats use cats for transportation, much like we do with horses. What do you think are some other animals rats use?  Is it right for the rats to use the cats this way? Is it right for humans to use animals?


King Uther, at one point, thinks his kingdom is lost. How does working together help save their kingdom?  Why do you think teamwork is important? How have you worked in a team to accomplish something?


How come Brutilda cannot take Ratscalibur from Joey? What qualities does Joey have that serve him well in the rats’ kingdom?


Uncle Patrick finally finds Joey in the rat kingdom. Why did Uncle Patrick follow him? Do you think it was out of loyalty, guilt, or is that just what an uncle would do?


If your uncle brought you a pet rat, what would you do?  


Do you think Joey’s mom was right to be worried about both Joey and his Uncle? Have you ever caused your parents to worry?


Brutilda is a refugee from a kindergarten class and her experience sounds terrible. What do you imagine it would be like to be a rat in a class? Do you think you’d miss your family? Would you be bored?


Sir Parsifur rides Chequers into the palace and Aramis yells that “the beast doesn’t belong in the palace.” What do you think about the rats attitude about the cats they ride as horses? Would you rather be a rat, and ride a cat, or would you rather be the cat?


Do you think Joey and Uncle Patrick should tell Joey’s mom about their adventure and where they were? Why or why not?


Do you think Joey’s mom would believe them? Why or why not? What would you tell your parents?


Joey tells his mom he thinks there are lots of scary things in the city, but he’s not going to be scared by them. What do you think caused his change of attitude? Would you be scared? Is being scared a choice?


Why do you think Joey says it’s great to be grounded? Have you ever been grounded? How did you like it?


What do you think Uncle Patrick will do now? Do you think Joey’s mom forgives him? Why or why not?