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Fantasy, adventure and realism combine in a junior fiction novel by an award-winning writer.

Fantasy, adventure and realism combine in a junior fiction novel by an award-winning writer.

When David’s uncle comes to visit he sets off a bizarre series of events. Things become complicated when the pet rats turn bright red.

David senses that somehow the red rats are connected to the story he is reading, and he becomes more convinced when the colour red becomes contagious.

The parallel story sees Felix and his friend Bella inadvertently shifted into a strange land where they must solve a riddle. But this puts them into great danger. How will they escape and find their way home?

Young readers will want to solve the confusing conundrum of the red rats; they’ll delight in the word riddles and be absorbed by David’s story as well as by the fantastical adventures of Felix and Bella, skilfully told by the NZ Post Award-winning writer James Norcliffe.


This inventive novel follows the life of David, a young boy who is the only one who enjoys his Great Uncle Felix coming to stay. Felix is the only famous member of his family; he has written children's novels set in a mysterious world called Axillaris. When Felix arrives, strange, wonderful and random things start happening and suddenly David is in the middle of it all. I enjoy Norcliffe's writing, which is easy to follow. This is the best thing I have read and is as close to Margaret Mahy as I can find.

James Eunson, Tearaway

This is a multi level novel that explores the proposition that the line between fantasy and reality is a lot fuzzier than we think. Readers and writers of children’s literature know this already of course so it is always good when a children’s novel proves how true it is. Very clever writing from James Norcliffe. Almost a new Halfmen of O. All levels will get something out of this

Bob Doherty, Bob's Book Blog

Felix and the Red Rats is the latest children’s novel from James Norcliffe and a ripping wee yarn, rather a ripping two yarns, it is two.James Norcliffe has set the tones of the two stories at the appropriate pitch, with fully realised characters and plots in both tales; and at the end very fittingly ties them together in the final chapter. Felix and the Red Rats was a real pleasure to read. Strongly recommended. I liked the puzzle too; took me a while to solve it.

Simon Litten, Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    May 3, 2013

    Longacre Child

    248 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    May 3, 2013

    RHNZ Childrenâ??s ebooks

    248 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • 2014
    Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award
  • 2014
    Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award

Also by James Norcliffe

Twice Upon a Time
The Pirates and the Nightmaker
The Enchanted Flute
The Loblolly Boy
The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer


The Wee Free Men
Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons series)
Our Australian Girl: The Rose Stories
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Ranger's Apprentice 4: Oakleaf Bearers
Our Australian Girl: The Poppy Stories
Why I Love Footy
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Juliet, Nearly a Vet collection 1
Two Wolves
The Fighting Stingrays
The Alchemyst
Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile (BK1)
History Mysteries: Diamond Jack
Double Down: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (BK11)
Everything, Everything
I Just Couldn't Wait to Meet You
Midnight Jewel
Alice-Miranda At School 1