A promising first novel.

Margaret Robson Kent

Australian Book Review
Filled in the guestbook?


Chapter One

Here is Chapter One of Harriet Huxtable and the Purpose of Rats. I hope you enjoy it.

If you want to read more you should be able to buy the book at most good book stores or you may be able to find it at your local library. If they haven't got it, ask them to get it for you.


I needed an A. Desperately. And here was my last chance to get one. The very last project for the year. And if I could pull it off and get an A, that brand new beautiful compost bin would soon be all mine.

You see, I’ve been a bit slack with my projects this year. Not that I can’t do them or that I don’t want to do them, but I’ve been so busy with other things that I sort of haven’t gotten around to doing my projects on time. Then, the night before it’s due in, I quickly put one together and it usually turns out pretty pathetic.

Mr Rowe always frowns when he hands my projects back to me. So does Dad when I tell him that I got a C.

It’s not my fault that I’ve got more important things to do. Like fertilising the tomatoes and cutting up fruit to put on my bird feeder and turning over the compost heap.

I tried to explain to Dad that turning over the compost heap is a real time consumer and if I only had a proper compost bin all the scraps and stuff I put in there would break down heaps faster and I wouldn’t need to turn it over so often.

That’s when Dad decided to use bribery.

“If you get an A for your next project, Harriet,” he bribed, “I’ll buy you that compost bin you want so badly.”

I tried to tell Dad that I needed the compost bin first, so that I’d have time to do the project in the first place.

He told me that he was the one doing the bribing, thank you very much.

There’d been two projects to do since then. By the time I did all the weeding, planted the spinach seedlings and turned the compost heap, I only had time to get Cs again.

Dad suggested that I leave all my gardening jobs until the holidays. I suggested to Dad that my section of the garden was the best in the whole street and the rest of our garden was disgraceful because he was supposed to care for it and he always left his gardening jobs until never.

He had to agree.

And now, Mr Rowe was telling us about our final project for the year, otherwise known as My Last Chance For A Compost Bin.

It had to be about a pet, Mr Rowe was saying. Any old pet would do. If anyone in the class didn’t have a pet they could do it about their Grandma’s pet or their neighbour’s pet or any other pet they could manage to investigate.


I nearly fell off my chair. Mr Rowe always loved to suddenly roar the most important word of his sentence, but no matter how many times he did it, it always scared the spinach soup out of me.

I knew what was coming next. The quiet, whispered part of the sentence. Mr Rowe always whispers after the roar. Everybody in the class leaned forward.

“The key word for this project is interesting,” whispered Mr Rowe. “Sure, I still want to hear about the general stuff, like what your pet eats and where it sleeps, but most importantly…” - his voice was back to normal now - “…I want you to write about the unusual, the different, the strange and the generally-unknown-by-the-rest-of-the-population facts about your pet. I want interesting, interesting, INTERESTING!”

I suddenly felt tingly all over. And smiley. I looked at my best friend, Sophie Pridmore. She was smiley too. She knew how important the compost bin was to me and she must have realised the same thing that I had: I knew I could get an A! If interesting was what Mr Rowe wanted, interesting was what I could give him. And that meant an A. Which meant a compost bin!

And all because of Boris.

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