He is one weird Christmas visitor -- his hair and moustache an unearthly white-blond, his voice a gruff rumble. He fills the apartment doorway. From two metal cases he produces what a boy would expect from an exterminator: Toxic roach powders and poisonous fog bombs. But a crossbow? Eric is fascinated at first. He's been bored this snowbound vacation, and has already zapped about a zillion Zergs. Antsy, he's even sneaked a look at the Christmas presents hidden beneath his parents' bed. Then Anje Gabrail, this exterminator, appears, talking a little madly about his war against rats -- about killing them. "The worst," Anje says. And if Eric sees one in the Eden Apartments, he is to call Anje's twenty-four-hour cell phone immediately. Later that Monday, the fourth day before Christmas, a rat does appear in the building's basement -- and Eric finds himself suddenly, frighteningly swept into Anje's vengeful army. As either partner...or victim. With only a flashlight.
Avi is the author of more than seventy books for children and young adults, including the 2003 Newbery medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. He has won two Newbery Honors and many other awards for his fiction. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado. Visit him at Avi-Writer.com.
Leonid Gore moved to the US from his native Belarus in 1991. He has illustrated many beloved books for children and is also the author and illustrator of Danny’s First Snow. Mr. Gore lives in Oakland, New Jersey. Visit him online at LeonidGore.com.