The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

I felt really frustrated by this book. The premise of a rat traveling the world is cute because rats are creatures that can be found almost anywhere and exist in a variety of contexts, but I had issues with many of the choices this book made by making Wilhelm a rat. The author was a German child in World War II who has written a memoir dealing with national guilt over the past, so it's really hard to ignore the choice to use a rat to represent a German child when Art Spiegelman's MAUS used the rat to represent Jewish people. MAUS is a very well-known text, and it was really hard for me to separate this text from that one while I was reading. It felt rather dense to use rats to represent German children who felt ostracized when rats have already been used in a not-insignificant text to represent people who lost their lives because of the relatives of those German children. The heavy Catholic perspective in the story and the lack of acknowledgement of Jewish lives made this a really tough read for me.

This book also had some strange perspectives around animal testing that kind of made it seem as if the animals enjoyed being tester animals, and it was kind of off-putting. I think the author was trying to be nuanced and show both the positive and negative aspects of animal testing, but the execution left much to be desired.

I know that my experience with rats as metaphors in other WWII-related literature really colored how I read this book, but MAUS is not an insignificant text and I have a really hard time buying that the author would not know about it with the background she has. I think this story had potential, but the use of rats in this manner felt very wrong to me and it soured me on this book. Had another animal been chosen, this could have been something really good.

Final rating: 1.5 of 5 stars
Was this review helpful?
The Adventure of Wilhelm was anthropomorphic story of travel and adventure, discovering various cultures, food and people with deeper understanding of ways of life from a rat’s perspective. It also told about family, friendship, individual growth and knowledge and helping community to lead better life.

As Wilhelm (Wil) traveled from his home in California to China, Sweden, Germany, France and Italy, he explored famous places, tasted different food, made new friends, learned new languages and found more about his ancestors and rats from all over the world as well as faced the horrors of bad people and animals. He was very smart, clever, and courageous rat who learned about new things, customs, nature and characteristics of people as well as animals aptly experiencing ups and downs during the travel and finding ways to keep going.

Through this story author encouraged travel, experience world, learning customs and celebrations at various places with minimum luggage and finding easy and convenient mode. Author gave new perspective towards despicable animals- such as rats, vultures, crows etc- who helps in cleaning up the mess humans make and how rats are viewed and mistreated by people but also mentioned how like humans there are good and bad sides in rats as well.

It mainly teaches the way of life, how the nature of people and animals are alike, the most important aspect of any being’s life is, food and shelter, without which even the decent animals can turn to violence and by taking care of these necessities a violent animals can turn to decent being.

I liked various facts about stories and places mentioned in the book as well as the translations at the end of each chapters. This book has mesmerizing foreword and preface. It tells more about the book than synopsis or this review can tell. The questions at the end of the book will be fun to discuss and kids would love to find answers to them. It can be a great classroom book and teachers would find many points in the book through which they can teach geography, history, culture as well as moral principles and ethics.

Overall, it was steady paced, informative and insightful travel book with nice illustrations that kids would love to explore. It wasn’t much of fun it’s purely educational and travel book for young reader. Kids will be inspired to record their own travel experience through this book.
Was this review helpful?
This is a cute story of a wanderlust rat named Wilhelm and his worldly experiences. He leaves the comforts of his family’s San Diego home in search of adventure. He visits the Great Wall of China, visits Germany in search of distant relatives during the Oktoberfest, tours the Coliseum in Rome, and many more stops while tasting all  types of food and utilizing just about every mode of transportation available.
While I do think this book makes a delightful educational story for a young reader, for me personally I wasn’t able to feel really invested in this story or connected with Wilhelm. But that might be different for a young reader. I think it would be perfect for a homeschooling family that could possibly chart his trip and talk about his experiences. 
Thank you to Netgalley and Xpresso Book Tours for this e-copy in exchange for my honest review, all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I think adventure/travel stories are fun and think many children will enjoy them, even inspire them. This tale of a world traveling young rat was enjoyable! I like the way he was encouraged by his parents to go off and explore and his dad even gave him advice on how rat ancestors got around. I like that he manged to get to so many different places and meet so many different people. I like that the author introduces the reader to the varies cultures and how they live and what they eat. I can only hope that children reading this book will be inspired to set out at, some point in their lives, and explore the world the way Wilhelm did. Times have changed, since I was growing up, but us teens traveled extensively throughout the US and Canada every summer. Some of us even went to Europe! Would that those days could return so our own children and grandchildren could do the same. Well, the story will serve as inspiration; kids can hope and dream. Good story!
Was this review helpful?
This is a beautiful tale of one rat's journey to explore the world. Engaging storyline with wonderful and diverse characters. It also teaches you about various ways of life. I adored this book and would read more from this author.
Was this review helpful?