Thursday, June 25, 2009


The brown rat, or rattus norvegicus, is a common rodent found all over the world. Rats are probably one of the most misunderstood animals. Some people view them as pests, and yet, others see them as pets. I've never owned a rat, to be honest. As a kid, rats always freaked me out a little. I'm not sure why, but maybe it was their long, hairless tails or the fact that they had been given such a bad rap. I had hamsters when I was a kid, just like Nicole holding Nibbles here. Hamster were kind of like rats, minus the slithery tail. My mom tolerated hamsters, but not rats, so they were out of the question.

In my first published picture book, A New Job for Dilly, the main character is a brown rat. About a year ago I sat down to write a story about a rat on a pirate ship. I'm really into pirate history and rats were a big part of every ship. They chewed through the boats, ate the food, and were even bred to be eaten when times got tough at sea. Basically, that's how Dilly began, except his name was Scabby. The story didn't get too far and eventually Scabby started looking for jobs so he didn't have to steal his favorite food -- pickles. After it was written, I let my family read the manuscript and they all liked it, except for one thing. "Why is he called Scabby?" they all asked. It was a good question, since there was no reference to why he was called that. The name was simply brought over from the pirate ship idea. So, I sat talking to my friend Paula on IM one day and we were discussing names. The conversation turned to pickles and that's how the name Dilly came to be. It fit him perfectly! I still haven't given up my idea of a pirate rat, so maybe that will materialize someday. But for now, Dilly the rat is here to stay.

Today Adrienne is hosting my Dilly tour at her blog, The Story Board. She has posted some fun facts about rats that you might not know. In addition, she's come up with some very clever job opportunities to go with them. I loved how she tied that into my book. Please stop by her blog and check it out. Look for yesterday's entry too because she posted some really cool photographs that feature rats. She has a great blog and always has funny things to say, so you'll definitely want to come back to visit her. Thanks also to Sherrie, Beth, Elysabeth, and Sharon for helping me with this tour to promote A New Job for Dilly. All of my hosts have been awesome and very creative. I couldn't be more blessed to have such great friends. And it's not over yet! We still have 2 more days to go and more Dilly fun planned.

Remember, you can win a free, autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly by simply leaving FOUR comments at the various blog tour stops. It's not too late to go back to any of them to comment, so please do so if you haven't already. A New Job for Dilly is available through 4RV Publishing, LLC. It can also be ordered through any bookseller. The ISBN codes are listed on my website. However, if you'd like an autographed copy of the book, you can order one directly from me and I'd be happy to sign one for you or your child. And finally, I want to thank everyone who has been following my blog tour this week. Dilly & I really appreciate your support!


  1. I used to have all kinds of hamsters and gerbils when I was younger. I was quite fond of one particular one I had. He was quite feisty. Unfortuanately, he got out once and ate rat mother vacuumed him up to catch up. (AHHH!) He survived it, but ended up blind and crippled. Poor guy!! I still LOVED him with ALL my heart when I was little.

    Hope you have a great day! =)


  2. What a cute picture of Nicole - I had a hamster that looked just like that.

    Thanks for all the kind words about my blog!

  3. Awww, Paris -- sorry to hear about your hamster. I had several myself and some had worse fates than others. One gray one I named Smokey and he was notorious for escaping from his cage. One day Smokey went missing and I couldn't find him for days. Turns out he had gotten behind my bed, which had wheels on it, and it had smooshed him. There he was -- pressed into the baseboard, stiff as a board. Poor Smokey. He was a cool hamster too and was one of the few ones I had that didn't bite.

    Never had a rat though, but I did assist in a hysterectomy on a rat once when I worked at the Pet Emergency Clinic. She had a prolasped uterus and the surgery was her only option. It was wild strapping that little thing to that huge operating table. But we found out years later, that she was still doing fine, so it was a success. :)

  4. I've never had a hamster or a guinnea pig or anything like that. I've had friends that have though. not sure I'd like it. I'm glad your tour is going to good Rena!


  5. No rats, hamster or gerbils here, but I once had a long haired guinea pig named Thing!

  6. Ohhhh . . . I hate rats :( but I'm sure I'll love Dilly :)

  7. This sounds like such a cute story. I used to have hamsters... loved them, but the idea of having a rat would freak me out a bit. Although I do love Remy!

  8. lol at the name Scabby Rena! I like Dilly better!

    I checked out (and commented of course) on your blog tour but I don't think I needed to have that much info on rats. Chewing through glass and cinderblock?? eek. Thank goodness Dilly likes pickles instead! lol