RAT RULE 79
By Rivka Galchen, illustrated by Elena Megalos
Restless Books, September 10, 2019
Fred and her math-teacher mom are always on the move, and Fred is getting sick of it. She’s about to have yet another birthday in a new place without friends. On the eve of turning thirteen, Fred sees something strange in the living room: her mother, dressed for a party, standing in front of an enormous paper lantern—which she steps into and disappears.
Fred follows her and finds herself in the Land of Impossibility—a loopily illogical place where time is outlawed, words carry dire consequences, and her unlikely allies are a depressed white elephant and a pugnacious mongoose mother of seventeen. With her new friends, Fred sets off in search of her mom, braving dungeons, Insult Fish, Fearsome Ferlings, and a mad Rat Queen. To succeed, the trio must find the solution to an ageless riddle.
“Rat Rule 79 is the adventure I didn’t know I wanted until it started, just like it’s the book you don’t yet know you’re going to love. We have been waiting for this book our entire lives.” – Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events
“Rat Rule 79 is an impossibly perfect book: a Mobius strip where the love loops continuously between mother's daughters and daughter's mothers, law and disorder, the lost and the found. Fred is a heroine for the ages—a twelve-year old savant of mathematical and emotional truths and a connoisseur of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, Fred is smart enough to navigate irrational lands, demands, and numbers, and brave enough to love the strangest strangers. Rat Rule 79 belongs on a shelf of classics with The Phantom Tollbooth, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and The Last Unicorn. How can it be that Galchen's epic, so utterly, enchantingly new, also gave me the happiest deja vu while reading? How can the Dark, Dark Woods be such an illuminating place? These and other paradoxes fill Galchen's astonishing, hilarious, mind-and-heart expanding book. As I read, I thought, ‘I can't wait to share this with my daughter, son, mother, brother, sister, best friend…’ a number set that eventually swelled to include: everyone.” – Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia
“Lewis Carroll, Norton Juster, Tove Jansson, Russell Hoban; like them, Rivka Galchen has written a book for children and adults that occupies its own delightful and preposterous space. Rat Rule 79 feels like it has simply been waiting to fall into our laps.” – Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn and Chronic City
About the Author
Rivka Galchen’s first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances (2008), and her story collection, American Innovations (2014), were both New York Times Best Books of the Year. Her writing frequently appears in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The London Review of Books and The Believer. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Fellowship, The Berlin Prize, and The William J. Saroyan International Prize in Fiction, was named to The New Yorker’s list of 20 Writers Under 40, and received her MD from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Rivka lives in New York City.