Written by Jean Saxby
Risky Rat’s whiskers quivered with excitement. He scampered on the hot pavement with Cunning Cat and Tricky Dog to the library entrance.
Rat sang at the top of his voice (Sing to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star).
We are Cat, Dog and Rat all three.
We are going to the library,
To unknown lands and quests untold,
To other places, new and old.
Meow, meow, woof, woof,
Meow, meow, squeak,
Meow, meow, woof, woof,
Squeak, squeak, squeak!
Rat gazed around the huge room lined with bookshelves smelling of paper and polish.
The Librarian frowned at them. ‘We can’t have a rat in the library.’
Rat’s stomach clenched with disappointment. ‘Please. I promise not to chew on the pages.’
The Librarian stared at him through squinty eyes.
Rat gritted his teeth.
Cat tapped her claws on the desk. ‘We want a ticket to the other worlds you have in your library,’ she said.
‘I have just the thing,’ the Librarian said.
She filled in two forms and gave Cat and Dog a library card each, then turned to the next customer.
The Librarian’s eyes glinted something dark, but she sighed, filled out a form and gave him a card.
Rat breathed deeply twice. Here at last. He wished he’d brought his binoculars.
Cat grabbed one of his paws with her teeth and pulled him to the shelves.
‘What do you want to borrow, Rat?’ she asked ‘The whole library is your oyster.’
Rat scratched the fur on his head. ‘A story about ogres with horns and castles of doom.’
‘Shhh.’ Frog looked up from his book and glared at them.
‘I don’t like ogres, mummy,’ Baby Possum said. ‘Take me home.’
‘We don’t welcome rats in this library,’ growled Willard the Wombat, balanced on a cushion with a book about supercars.
‘Hurry,’ Dog said. ‘I think Rat’s worn out his welcome.’
Cat grabbed a book about the world’s best fishing spots, and Dog took a book about a circus. Just as Rat found a story about an ancient world, Baby Possum gave a piercing squeal, so they left for home.
They all had oysters for dinner because it was now Dog’s favourite food.
Later that night, Rat curled up in his bed and started his story. Soon he was in a land of marauding monsters, soaring mountains, and deep valleys. He was halfway up a sheer rock face, with a ravine full of ogres far below.
Nothing was going to stop him from reaching the summit.
The eerie moon shone onto his pages through the window and an owl hooted, but Rat barely noticed.
He crouched at the top of the mountain, dodging flocks of flapping birds, and peered towards the misty horizon.
What lay beyond the mountain range?
He was about to find out.
Rat dragged his blanket up to his chin, sighed in bliss, and read on.
This story is adapted from ‘Rat Visits the Library’ which was published in 2021 in ‘The Children’s Book Council of Australia Anthology ‘Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds’.