By Michael Morpurgo, Emma Chichester Clark
Candlewick Press, $16.99, 32 pages

The town of Hamelin is in big trouble. Garbage heaps tower above the streets. Beggars and orphans scavenge for scraps of food. Worst of all, thousands of rats are running wild. The wealthy mayor offers no help. Like all the other adults in town, he ignores apparent problems. The Pied Piper shows up in town and offers to clear out the rodents using a silver flute. All he asks in return is one gold coin as payment. As the magical flute music mesmerizes the rats, they flee the city. But what happens when the mayor refuses to pay the Pied Piper? He begins to play again and this time all the children in town follow him! He will not return them until the mayor changes the community so that everyone has a home, warmth, clothes, and food.

A young orphan boy narrates the story and offers a unique perspective on this classic fable. This tale of morality stresses the importance of social responsibility and community involvement. Readers will understand that it is never too late for people to change their ways and start doing good deeds for others.

Elizabeth Franklin