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University of Chester author gets 'ratty' over land mine issue

Rhian Waller has written a children's book about the role rats play in sniffing out explosives

APOPO rats in action as they help to safely sniff out explosives(Image: UGC)

A Chester author has written a children’s book to support an unusual anti-land mine initiative.

Rhian Waller, 32, who lives in the Garden Quarter, wrote Ship Rats, a story for young readers, to support APOPO, an organisation that trains giant African pouched rats to safely sniff out explosives.

She said: “I know rats might seem like an odd choice of subject for a children’s story, but when I nervously picked up three young sisters from the RSPCA a year ago they turned out to be the funniest, cleverest pets I’ve ever had.

“They got up to so much mischief I knew I had to write about them and ended up with Ship Rats, which is the first in a trilogy.

Rhian Waller, 32, who lives in the Garden Quarter, wrote Ship Rats, a story for young readers, to support APOPO, an organisation that trains giant African pouched rats to safely sniff out explosives(Image: UGC)

“When I heard about the work APOPO does it all just came together. They do an amazing job, keeping their trained rats very safe and happy while saving human lives.”

The 100-page book tells the tale of three young rats who accidentally stow away on board an 18th century trader heading from Europe to the West Indies.

They have to outwit​ hostile sailors and face the challenges set by Black Spot, the dangerous ‘skipper’ of the trade ship rats.

Lu, the main character of the story, is a little white rat who bonds with Runa, a young girl who has her own journey to make. They have to work together to save the ship when it sails into a devastating storm.

Rhian works as a journalism lecturer at the University of Chester.

Ship Rats, a story for young readers, by Rhian Waller(Image: UGC)

She said: “I had an adult novel published several years ago when it won a competition with a company called the Write Factor.

“I’ve also had short stories and poems published online and in magazines. But this is my first attempt at a full-length children’s story.

“The furry heroes in my book aren’t the first to feature in a story: Terry Pratchett and Beatrix Potter also wrote about rats, although the ones in my book aren’t magic and they don’t wear cute little clothes!”

At least 50p from the sale of every book will go to APOPO, which also trains rats to detect and stop the spread of tuberculosis.

Ship Rats is now available in Sally’s Secret Garden on Bridge Street in Chester as well as online in print, Kindle and epub format at Amazon.co.uk and Lulu.com.

Copies are available direct from the author for £2.99 (plus P&P).

To find out more visit rhianwriting.wordpress.com/books-for-younger-people or follow Lu the rat on Twitter at @LuSniffy.

For information about APOPO visit www.apopo.org.

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