town mouse and country mouse

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Helen Ward

Never has there been such a beautiful example of this Aesop Fable.  This is the classic tale of the county mouse who is happy in the simplicity of the country until his cousin from the city comes to visit with his claims of the wonders there.  The country mouse goes to visit, discovering things like elevators, electric lights, and enormous banquets.  But when they are both chased by a city pet, in this case a little dog, the country mouse realizes that while the city is fast-moving and filled with bright lights, he misses his quiet life in the country.  Merrily, the book ends with an image of the city mouse asleep in a wheel of expensive cheese.

It is the illustrations here that make this such a noteworthy book.  Ward takes special care in depicting the beauty of the countryside and the country life.  She moves between seasons, the apple tree decked in pink blossoms and then hearty with ripe apples.  The two mice are shown without any little clothes or any anthropomorphic touches.  Instead these are two sleek and life-like creatures. 

The illustrations are sumptuous, rich and superb.  They invite you to explore the county and the city and see beauty in both.  They bring you into the cozy winter nest of the country mouse.  They linger on the many blossoms of the country landscape.  They focus you close in from a mouse point of view. 

Highly recommended, this book belongs in library collections for both its beauty and the simple way it is written.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.