Fall 2024

Rats to the Rescue

The Unlikely Heroes Making Cambodia Safe

  • Interest Level: Grade 1 - Grade 4
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and species!

Growing up in Cambodia, Malen knew that dangers from a long-ago war lay hidden underground. Buried explosives forced her and many others to live, farm, and play in fear. As she got older, Malen learned how to use a metal detector to find and safely dispose of these landmines.

Five thousand miles away, in Tanzania, Magawa was also learning how to find landmines. But he didn’t need a metal detector—he had his nose. Magawa was a rat, and his smelling superpower and light weight helped him safely sniff out dangerous explosives.

After completing his training, Magawa joined Malen in Cambodia, and together they cleared more than a hundred landmines from fields all across the country. A fascinating true story with a hopeful ending and rich back matter from Scott Riley, author of The Floating Field, with Sambat Meas, a Cambodian deminer, and Cambodian American illustrator Huy Voun Lee.

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On pre-order until 09/10/2024
On pre-order until 09/10/2024
Available at all major wholesalers and distributors. Save 25% off list price on hardcovers and ebooks when you buy direct! Digital purchases will be accessed on Lerner Digital Bookshelf. An account will be created for you after purchase.
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, Animals, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2024
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Millbrook Press ™
Language English
Number of Pages 40
Publication Date 2024-09-10
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF038020, JNF003160, JNF011000
Dewey 636.935088
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Guided Reading Level P
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Original artwork, Pronunciation guide, Reviewed, and Timeline

Author: Scott Riley

Scott Riley is a teacher and children's book author. Scott has spent nearly thirty years teaching in the US, Indonesia, Czech Republic, and Singapore. Scott draws inspiration from the people he meets and the places he explores while living overseas. His debut picture book The Floating Field was a Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List title, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, and Freeman Book Award winner. He currently lives in Singapore with his wife, two daughters, and one very lively labradoodle.

Author: Sambat Meas

As a child growing up in Cambodia, Sambat Meas could see that the deminers working to clear the country of landmines were heroes. He now works with Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development (APOPO) to help make Cambodia a safer place for everyone.

Illustrator: Huy Voun Lee

Huy Voun Lee arrived in New York City at the age of six as a Cambodian refugee. She quickly developed a love for art from playing with the scrap papers her mother brought home from her workplace. Huy has written and illustrated many books for children including Like a Dandelion and Origami Playhouse. On many days, she can be found sharing the joys of origami and art with school children in New York City and visitors of the Museum of Natural History. Huy lives with her husband and mother in New York.



“With Lee’s painted scenes (switching to photos in the back matter) to illustrate, the authors describe in detail how both the people and the rats are trained, how Malen and her colleagues bond with their animals, and how they carefully and systematically stake out and sweep suspected minefields.”—Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“An unusual subject, sensitively handled.”—Kirkus Reviews