Kid's Stuff -- Books About Mousies and Mice
Other Topics | Main Book Reviews






"Nutmeg And Barley: A Budding Friendship"
Written by Janie Bynum
Illustrated by Janie Bynum
(Candlewick, 2006)

Opposites attract in this tale of a shy field mouse named Barley, and his rambunctious, chatty neighbor, Nutmeg the squirrel. Nutmeg is always inviting Barley over to visit, and he is always too shy and self-contained to consent. Finally, when the mouse gets a bad cold, Nutmeg takes over and nurses him back to health, cementing a lifelong friendship and/or romance. I wasn't wild about this book, but my daughter loved it (for about a week...) The artwork was okay, but the story struck me as fairly old-fashioned, with stereotyped gender roles and a clumsy resolution. But in one of those Barney-like moments, it rang a bell in my kid's imagination, so instead of shuffling it out of the way (as planned), I wound up reading it for much longer than I'd have guessed... Might not strike a chord with parents, but some kids will love it. (B-)


"The Town Mouse And The Country Mouse"
Written by Helen Craig
Illustrated by Helen Craig
(Candlewick, 1992)

Helen Craig, the magnificent illustrator of the original Angelina Ballerina books, keeps things in a mousy mode for this warm retelling of the ancient Aesop fable about the town mouse and the country mouse, whose lifestyles and tastes are quite different. Charlie is a the mellow, unhurried country mouse who likes nothing better than to watch sunsets after a simple meal of fruits and grain, while Tyler is a go-getter city critter who likes to sneak into see scary movies and top the evening off eating the leftovers off of fancy banquet tables. The story follows much the same arc as the original fable: Tyler takes Charlie to see the bright lights of town, and Charlie decides city life just ain't for him. What Craig brings to the table is her fine-lined, densely detailed artwork, along with her affinity for cute lil' mice -- you'll feel as attached to these guy as to any of the mousies in the Angelina series. Nice one! (A)


"Charlie and Tyler By The Seaside"
Written by Helen Craig
Illustrated by Helen Craig
(Candlewick, 1999)

In this follow-up to Craig's 1992 Town Mouse And The Country Mouse, the two cousins go on an ill-fated trip to the beach... They start things off by climbing onto a toy boat, and then are terrified when a boy starts playing with it in the choppy surf. Then they stroll along the boardwalk, and wind up trapped in a mechanical display. Finally, when it's time to go home, they are attacked by a gigantic seagull, who takes Tyler back to its nest, to feed to its hatchling. Timid Charlie, who spent most of the adventure worrying and complaining, comes to Tyler's rescue, and when they do finally get home, the two mice find themselves exhilarated, despite the terrors of the day. This sequel lacks the simple, Aesopian charm of the first book, and the drama may be a little too intense for smaller readers. Probably best for somewhat older kids, in the 6-10 age range? (B-)


"Mary And The Mouse, The Mouse And Mary"
Written by Beverly Donofrio
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock
(Random House/Schwartz & Wade, 2007)

A stunner...! The story, about an adorable little girl who forms a lifelong relationship with an equally adorable mouse that lives in the walls of her house, is cute, but what will really knock your socks off are Barbara McClintock's detailed, delightful illustrations. This is perhaps her most precise, most formidable artwork to date, building on her love of architecture and the beauty of detail in the physical world. The dualistic structure of the story, contrasting the mouse's world to the girl's, lends itself to formality, but McClintock really outdoes herself on this one, mixing joyfulness with a level of draftsmanship that is almost unheard of in modern children's books. Panels such as the two-page spread contrasting the girl and mouse's college dorm rooms, or the sequence showing Mary's daughter "accidentally on purpose" dropping books on the floor so that she can see her mouse friend are absolutely magical. The text has its problems -- mostly its just a teeny, tiny bit overwritten (Donofrio is entering the picturebook field after the success of her autobiographical memoir) but the overall feel of the book sweeps all of it aside. This is a wonderful book, and fully deserves to become a classic. Maybe you'll dig it, too. (A)


"Inside Mouse/Outside Mouse"
Written by Lindsay Barrett George
Illustrated by Lindsay Barrett George
(Greenwillow, 2004)

Pretty pictures, but a confusing narrative. Two mice, one that lives inside a house and one that lives in a tree, move through parallel activities before meeting nose-to-nose at a windowpane. The pictures are beautiful, finely rendered and full of captivating little details, but it's hard to track what's going on from page to page, since you have to make mental leaps back and forth from one story to the next. This confusion might have been eased if the text were more explicit, ie, if they had said, "now the inside mouse is..." and "now the outside mouse is..." or something like that. In general, I'm not a big fan of this kind of split-narrative book: you have to add a lot extra effort as the reader to make it work, and even then it's a little awkward, since you're basically making it up as you go along. This is one of the better books of its kind, but it's still too clunky for me.
(C+)



Katherine Holabird 's "Angelina Ballerina" series -- see author profile


"The Island Of The Skog"
Written by Steven Kellogg
Illustrated by Steven Kellogg
(Dial Books, 1973)

A spunky group of mice, who have sort of an "Our Gang", can-do spirit, decide to leave the cat-filled big city and set sail for the high seas, where they can be free from predators. Sailing on an antique, miniature galleon, they come to a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, which at first seems uninhabited, but proves to be home to the fearsome Skog...!! One of the mice, a bossy boy named Bouncer, keeps taking charge and telling others what to do, and he decides that they should blast the beach with the ship's cannons, to preemptively teach the Skog not to mess with the mousies. There's a little bit more senseless violence until at last they discover that the Skog is only a frightened little vole, and decide that they can coexist with the Skog after all. Although the story concludes with a message of tolerance and communication, it takes a while to get there, and although the point of the book is to repudiate violence, it still has quite a bit of it within its pages. The finely-detailed artwork (Kellogg's signature style) is delightful, but the shoot-'em-up aspects of the plot, along with the gender stereotyping (of boys recklessly taking charge, and girls deferring to their judgement, even when they think they're wrong...) are a bit dated. This looks like it might be a sequel to an earlier book starring the same mice; if it isn't, then the book certainly begins a bit abruptly. Didn't really ring my bells, which is a shame, since the artwork is so nice. (C+)


"If You Give A Mouse A Cookie"
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
(Laura Geringer, 1985)

The first book in a hugely popular series, and probably the best. The premise is Rube Goldberg-ian, where one thing leads to another: If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want some milk. If you give him milk... etc., etc., until the whole house is turned upside down. It's kind of amusing the first time around, although adult readers may find themselves climbing the walls with boredom after a few iterations. The many sequels, If You Give A Moose A Muffin, et. al., all seem like lesser variations on the theme. (B)


"Miss Mouse's Day"
Written by Jan Ormerod
Illustrated by Jan Ormerod
(Harper Collins, 2001)

A picture-perfect glimpse into playtime with a lively little toddler and her favorite doll, a large stuffed mousie that joins her in all the day's adventures. They have breakfast, do a little art, play dress-up, smear on some make-up and go outside and get good and dirty... and the it's off to bed. The art's a teeny bit on the busy side, but basically this book captures the joyful interior world of a happy, imaginative child, hard at play with her toys and the world around them. Very cute, and it rings really true. (B)


"Miss Mouse Takes Off"
Written by Jan Ormerod
Illustrated by Jan Ormerod
(Harper Collins, 2001)

This time around, Miss Mouse and her little girl fly on a plane together... The mousie has a few close calls, but mostly they have a fun time together. Nice book to help prepare a small child for plane travel. (B)


"A Tale Of Two Bad Mice"
Written by Beatrix Potter
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Rabbit Ears, 1991)

(-)


"The Dearest Little Mouse In The World"
Written by Antonie Schneider
Illustrated by Quentin Greban
(North-South Books, 2004)

This one, a translation of a book from Belgium, is a longtime favorite at our house... Highly recommended! It's the story of an adorable little girl mouse, Fay, who walks to school by herself and one day is frightened by a big black dog (actually a small, fuzzy puppy) who just wants to say "hi!" but scares Fay because of his size. Fay's parents sort the misunderstanding out, and the little girl goes back to make friends with the friendly dog. It's a very European story and moral -- we can sort our differences out through openness and understanding -- which is fine by me. Best of all is the delightful artwork by Quentin Greban, warm, playful and richly detailed, it makes fun of the little mice living inside a big human house, and also presents some of the cutest little black-nosed mousies you'll ever see. Great book. You'll love it. (A+)


"Anatole"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1956)

A wonderful Francophile classic, in which a teeny-tiny, beret-wearing Parisian mouse discovers that humans do not, in fact, like to have mice in their houses, and indeed consider them germy little freeloaders. Determined to pull his own weight, Anatole sneaks into a cheese factory and appoints himself the company's new taste-tester... When his suggestions dramatically improve the company's sales, he gets the job for real (although no one ever discovers that he is, in fact, a mouse...) Other than the lovely pictures, the love of cheese and a few cute phrases, the overt Frenchness of the series is a bit tangential, but it doesn't really matter... This is a lovely series, full of good humor and captivating artwork. Recommended! (B+)


"Anatole And The Cat"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1957)

Our plucky Gallic mousie find his new job jeopardized when a cat shows up at the cheese factory, giving Anatole a fright and causing his friend Gaston to quit working as his assistant. Memos fly back and forth between Anatole and the cheese factory's owner (now that sounds French!) until finally Anatole figures out a way to get the horrid feline out of his hair. Like the first Anatole book, this story is witty and charming, although the dramatic arc is much less clean, and readers may have to do a little more work to make it hit home. Still, we liked it. Probably better suited for older kids, but charming nonetheless, with some of Galdone's best artwork. (B+)


"Anatole And The Toy Shop"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1970)

(-)


"Anatole In Italy"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1973)

(-)


"Anatole And The Robot"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1960)

(-)


"Anatole Over Paris"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1961)

(-)


"Anatole And The Poodle"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1965)

(-)


"Anatole And The Piano"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1966)

(-)


"Anatole And The Pied Piper"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill)

(-)


"Anatole And The Thirty Thieves"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1969)

(-)


"Mice At The Beach"
Written by Haruo Yamashita
Illustrated by Kazuo Iwamura
(William Morrow, 1983)

A little family of mice -- well, a big family, actually: there are seven children! -- goes on an outing to the beach. Daddy Mouse has come up with a scheme to keep track of all the kids, tying cords to all seven of their inner tubes so that he can keep tabs on them and play lifeguard. But when the family takes a nap and the tide comes, Daddy finds himself stranded on a sandbar out in the middle of the water. Mama Mouse and the children work together to rescue Daddy (who as it turns out, can't swim) and then they head back home, with a happy ending after all. A good, simple story... nothing earthshaking or profound, but reasonably engaging, with nice, functional artwork. Has some nice touches, although the story is a bit flat. (B-)




Related Topics:
More Books | Topic List



Home Page

Other Book Reviews
Slipcue.Com (Music & Film)




Copyright owned by Read That Again.Com.  All Rights Reserved.  
Unauthorized use, reproduction or translation is prohibited.