Monday, April 9, 2012

Favorite Adaptations: The Coachman Rat by David Henry Wilson

Here is the another entry in the Favorite Adaptations Giveaway. This entry is by Sam Valentino. Read more about the giveaway here to learn how to win a copy of Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross. I am extending the deadline on entries through April 14th since I didn't think ahead about last week being spring break and vacations for so many.

A book I can highly recommend – and wish more people knew about – is David Henry Wilson’s The Coachman Rat. The main character is, naturally, the rat turned coachman from Cinderella, named Robert. After the iconic story, the book then goes on to chronicle Robert’s life post-transformation (or rather post-post-transformation, as he’s turned back into a rat at the stroke of midnight). The writing is wonderful, but that’s only one of the many good things about the book. Cinderella, her stepfamily, and the Prince may be minor characters, but for me, they stand out from other modern versions. Further, Robert as a rat has a unique, non-human viewpoint that he’s willing to discuss with the more open-minded characters in the book. Though there are plenty of close-minded characters as well, who want to fit Robert’s experience in with either their expectations or their plans.

But it’s not all a fun fairy tale. At about the middle of the book, the story takes a very dark turn. It veers off so wildly that I don’t want to say how, as it would ruin the surprise. And even though it is a radical departure from the first half, it is completely in line with the personalities that lead up to it. Perhaps the reason it comes as such a surprise is that it’s not the sort of thing that usually shows up in tales like these, which for me made it all the better.

Although it’s likely to be found in libraries, it’s unfortunately out of print. Which is a shame, as it really is one of the more creative versions of a very often-told tale.

My blog address is– which contains, among other things, pages from Frog Prince and Gingerbread Man books I made for my kids, along with other fairytale-inspired drawings. My website is

Thanks very much - Sam Valentino


  1. This sounds fascinating, thanks!


  2. I will have to put this one on my list of books to keep an eye out for! What an interesting twist on the "tail" ;)

    This summary makes me think of "A Sound, Like Angels Singing" by Leonard Rysdyk. I don't want to say too much about it as figuring it out is part of the fun, but it is a story that show the power of shift in narrative perspective! (I found that story in the Datlow/Windling "Snow White, Blood Red" book.)