288 pages with black and white illustrations. ISBN:9780987461537
"The Pie Rat crew of the Apple Pie, Whisker, Ruby Rat, Fish Eye Fred, Pencil Leg Pete, Hook Hand Horace, and Captain Black Rat compete in a gruelling tournament for the 25th Pirate Cup in this fun adventure for middle grade readers.
"In THE TROPHY OF CHAMPIONS, the Pie Rats want to win the prize for the honour of beating the other teams, especially their long-time rivals, Team Cat Fish, a disreputable collection of conniving cats. The young apprentice, Whisker, has an additional motivation for winning: a sly fox has promised to reveal the location of Whisker’s missing family members if he can deliver the trophy as payment for the information. Among the toughest challenges Whisker faces is his relationship with Ruby Rat. Although she senses Whisker is keeping secrets from her and the rest of the team, she wrongly assumes he’s hiding his romantic feelings about someone, rather than the far more serious truth he hides from everyone: his parents’ and sister’s lives may depend on whether or not he leads the Pie Rats to victory in the Pirate Cup tournament.
"This engaging story, where everyone has something at stake in the competition, also features unique characters, such as Baron Gustave, the heavily accented rabbit who serves as master of ceremonies, and the cantankerous new head coach, Granny Rat, mother of Captain Black Rat and grandmother of Ruby Rat. Stelzer provides fun character names (“Penelope Pond Scum” for a cane toad), cute expressions (“great goats gobbling gumboots”), and imaginative descriptions (“every snarl, sneeze, sigh, and snore that echoed through the campsite had set his nerves on edge”).
"Most of the 28 chapters also include charming black-and-white sketches of the characters, maps, and scoreboards. Illustrated by the author, the artwork is highly professional and contains character and location names to help readers visualize events in the story and keep track of who’s who. A perfect blend of action, dialogue, introspection, and artwork, the story concludes satisfactorily, while simultaneously setting the stage for Pie Rats Book 5: Child of the Cloud."