When Ratboy Lived Next Door

When Ratboy Lived Next Door

From the spring day in 1962 when Willis Merrill and his pet raccoon arrive in Maywood, Indiana, they are nothing but trouble for Lydia Carson. It's bad enough that Willis has moved in next door, but then he shows up in Lydia's sixth-grade class.

Inspired by Willis's love for his pet - and his spite for people - Lydia nicknames him Ratboy.  She wonders why he can't be more like his handsome older brother, Elliot. Life gets more complicated when Lydia alienates Elliot by insulting Willis and comes to a standoff with her mother. In her struggle to make amends with all, Lydia finds an ally in Willis and discovers the good in herself.

In her sharp, fresh voice, Chris Woodworth captures the flavor of a small town in Middle America and the hearts of its populace as she tells a powerful story about the resiliency and flexibility of family.

Awards and Reviews

  • IRA Children's Book Award Notable Book
  • Georgia Children's Book Award Master List
  • Missouri Mark Twain Award Master List
  • South Carolina Children's Book Award Master List
Lydia's robust voice carries the book. The sympathetic, deftly drawn characters develop authentically. Fans of Creech and DiCamillo will want to give Woodworth a try.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
A compelling debut for Woodworth.
Woodworth convincingly describes life in small town Indiana in 1962, the changing relationships between mother and adolescent daughter, and the complicated ways in which families survive and thrive, in this hopeful debut.
Kirkus Reviews
This excellent novel...should spark discussions about families, honesty, and what it means to be a good neighbor. An outstanding offering from a first-time author.
School Library Journal

Publisher & Other Information

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux



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Teacher Material

Below is a .zip file with various documents that either myself or other teachers have come up with for use in the classroom. Feel free to use them yourself or modify them to suit your classroom needs.

Teaching Kit for When Ratboy Lived Next Door