According to legend, on this date in 1284 the Pied Piper enticed 130 children away from Hamelin. See, the town of Hamelin had a big rat problem. The Pied Piper offered to solve the problem and the town agreed to pay him. He played a special tune on his pipe and all of the rats followed him to the river where they drowned. The townspeople refused to pay him so he played another little tune and lured their children away. Creepy, right?
You can read online Robert Browning’s poem telling the original legend – thanks to the lovely people of Indiana University. It has gorgeous Kate Greenaway illustrations! (You have to scroll down to see the arrows to page through the book.)
For some modern twists on the tale try…
The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents by Terry Pratchett
A talking cat, intelligent rats, and a strange boy cooperate in a Pied Piper scam until they try to con the wrong town and are confronted by a deadly evil rat king.
This book is set in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. If you like it, try some of the other books he wrote for teens set in Discworld.
Breath by Donna Jo Napoli
Elaborates on the tale of “The Pied Piper,” told from the point of view of a boy who is too ill to keep up when a piper spirits away the healthy children of a plague-ridden town after being cheated out of full payment for ridding Hameln of rats.