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“ An elegant, unusual story ” -Booklist, November 2000

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Water Rat
Written by Marnie Laird

The Best Children's Books of the Year, Children's Book Committee, Bank Street College of Education, 1/1/2000
"Orphaned Matt escapes an abusive guardian to find himself confronting murder and marauding pirates in coastal Delaware."

Children's Book Review Service, 12/1/1999
"The attention-holding, fast-paced story is set along the marshy Delaware coast in the mid-eighteenth century. Matt, a fourteen-year-old lame orphan, works in a tavern where he is abused by his employer and mocked by his peers. Circumstances change dramatically after Matt spies the innkeeper robbing a drunken patron. The tavern owner attempts to kill him and accuses Matt of theft. He is captured by pirates but let go. Later, he leads a detachment of soldiers to destroy the pirates' hideout. Matt gains the respect of others, finds a home, and has a bright future. Additional plusses include the drawings and a subtle message of respect for people with handicaps."

School Library Journal, 1/1/1999
"Matt, a fourteen-year-old orphan in Colonial America, is forced to work for an abusive tavern owner. Because of his bad leg and love of the marshes, people give the boy the nickname ‘Water Rat.' His situation changes when he saves the life of Dr. Campbell's wife. At the first opportunity, he runs away to collect on the woman's offer of help. Living in the good doctor's house, the boy experiences similar abuse from the couple's son, who thinks Water Rat is a thief and unworthy to be there. In the course of events, Matt's Indian friend is murdered and the boy survives a pirate attack on the Campbell's Delaware farm.

"Although he constantly has to prove his trustworthiness, Matt's indomitable spirit and emotional reactions are moving and believable. Laird creates a real sense of place and time through well-crafted prose and vivid descriptions. A good choice for readers who love plenty of action, a solid story, and a sympathetic main character."