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About the book
  • Published: 3 May 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775533245
  • Imprint: Longacre Child
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 248
  • RRP: $19.99

Felix and the Red Rats




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.

  • Pub date: 3 May 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775533245
  • Imprint: Longacre Child
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 248
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

James Norcliffe

James Norcliffe is an award-winning poet and educator, as well as an author of children’s books. He has been awarded the 2012 University of Otago College of Education’s Writer in Residence, and has been recipient of the 2006 Fellowship at Iowa University and the 2000 Robert Burns Fellowship at Otago University.

In 2003, Norcliffe, with Bernadette Hall, received the inaugural Christchurch Press Literary Liaisons Honour Award for ‘lasting contribution to literature in the South Island’. Norcliffe has taught English in Christchurch, China and Brunei. He won the Lilian Ida Smith Award in 1990, and the New Zealand Poetry Society’s international competition in 1992. He lives in Church Bay with his wife, Joan Melvyn.

His novel The Loblolly Boy was described by New Zealand’s most acclaimed children’s writer Margaret Mahy as ‘a rich fantasy — alive with original twists surprises and mysteries’. It was also published in the United States and Australia, won the 2010 NZ Post Junior Fiction Award, as well as being shortlisted for the Esther Glen Medal and the Sir Julius Vogel Science Fiction Award. It was a 2010 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.

The Loblolly Boy & the Sorcerer was a finalist in the Junior Fiction category of the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.The Enchanted Flute was published in 2012.

The YA fantasy novel The Assassin of Gleam won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for the best New Zealand fantasy novel of 2006, and was shortlisted for the 2007 LIANZA Esther Glen Medal.
In Science Fiction World, Gerard Woods wrote of The Loblolly Boy that Norcliffe ‘has written that rare children’s book, as much a joy for adults to read as for children’.

USA’s Booklist described The Loblolly Boy as ‘an imaginative and richly atmospheric fantasy with sympathetic characters. ... a haunting story that will capture most readers’ imaginations’.
The Loblolly Boy by James Norcliffe is an entrancing, exciting, unexpected read .... it has a wondrous, magical fairy-tale ambience ... I never quite knew where it was going or how it would be resolved,’ wrote George Ivanoff in Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus (ASFF).

Fran Knight, writing in Read Plus, ‘highly recommended’ The Loblolly Boy as an ‘intriguing, engrossing and wholly satisfying ... a highly original fantasy story’, while in the same publication Peter Pledger declared it ‘A unique and original fantasy, complete with adventure, magic and appealing characters, this is a tale that was hard to put down.’
Reviewing The Assassin of Gleam for the Christchurch Press, Trevor Agnew wrote that Norcliffe had avoided producing what could have been ‘just another cardboard fantasy cliché’ and had ‘breathed life into his characters and situations. The result is a skilfully told story, with a dark mood and a sense of urgency. It is clear that a master storyteller is at work from the first sentence . . .’

In New Zealand Books, Heather Murray identified Norcliffe’s ‘experience as historian and poet to create a logical, believable and exciting story out of an alienating and threatening world’. She concluded: ‘Though Norcliffe creates frightening worlds, [he] grounds his story and characters in acceptable reality through using known language . . .’.

Dave Pope, in Hawkes Bay Today, noted that ‘like all good stories this one has a plot within a plot within a plot. It keeps the reader wanting more, as minor characters are drawn into this dark tale.’ Felix and the Red Rats is a riveting adventure which sees the margins between fiction and reality, and the past and the present, dangerously blur.

Also by James Norcliffe

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Praise for Felix and the Red Rats

“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


Awards & Recognition

  • Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award

    Awarded • 2014 • Storylines Notable Junior Fiction


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