Tag: mice

Review: Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier

Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier

Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier

Count from one to three and back down to one again in this funny picture book. Three cookies don’t split evenly between two mice, but then neither does only one pair of oars when they head out on the water. Three rocks in the water make two holes in their boat. Luckily there is one island with two trees, which actually are the feet of a giant bird. The two mice cry three tears as they are carried up to be food for three chicks. All it takes is one nest to make their one escape. Back home, the two mice make one soup out of the perfect number of ingredients.

Ruzzier’s counting book is a gem. He cleverly uses the counting as a solid foundation for this story, each moment led forward by the numbers. At the same time, this shows his immense skill as he is able to keep the book funny, warm and dynamic without it becoming too filled with sing-song or too weighted by the structure itself. The story is almost effortless as it reads aloud, each number leaping to the next with the story the focus too.

The art too is jaunty and fun. The bright colors are infused throughout the landscape with clouds and the water ranging from pinks to yellows to oranges. Everything is done in unusual colors except the two main characters who are distinct in their bright white.

A clever counting book, this will make a great pick for bedtime or beginning counters. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson

Detective Gordon the First Case by Ulf Nilsson

Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee (InfoSoup)

When a squirrel discovers that some of his nuts are missing one winter night, he heads straight to the police station where Detective Gordon, Chief of Police, can help him. But when he gets there, no one seems to be around until he finds the great detective fast asleep on his paperwork with cake crumbs all around. Once awoken though, Detective Gordon heads out to help solve the crime. But it’s a very cold night and Detective Gordon can’t climb to the hole in the tree to see the crime scene. When he stands watch, he manages to freeze solid. That’s when a little mouse steals one nut from the tree and ends up helping Gordon back to his warm police station. The little mouse is soon named Buffy and settles into the police station as an assistant to Gordon. She can scramble up trees and seems to have a knack for crime solving too. It doesn’t hurt that it’s all accompanied with lots of warmth, tea and cakes. But who is stealing the nuts? Will they strike again? And how can one very young mouse and one old toad figure it all out?

Translated from the original Swedish, this book is a toasty little joy. It has gorgeous elements to it, filled with small touches that bring it entirely to life. From the various cakes for each time of day and the delight at discovering each new flavor to the pleasure both Buffy and Gordon get from stamping each document when its completed, this book is perfect for quiet and cozy crime fighters and detectives. The mystery is just right for small children and the cozy nature of the story makes this an idea bedtime read. The descriptions are vivid, enhancing the strong feeling of a woodsy community as a whole.

Spee’s illustrations add to the snug feeling of the story. She creates fires that glow with a halo of warmth, cakes that line up with plenty for everyone, and beds that are stacked with eiderdown. It is all very domestic and wonderful and also has a little humor mixed in, just like the story itself. The full-color illustrations make this a perfect book to move young readers and listeners to longer books.

A pleasure of a book, this cozy mystery for children is clearly European in origin which adds to the fun. Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.

Review: By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman

by mouse and frog

By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman

Released April 14, 2015

Mouse wakes up early to start work on the new story she wants to write. It is a quiet story about a mouse who is setting the table. But before she can get any farther in her story, exuberant Frog hops in and starts adding new elements to the story, including cake, a king, and lots of ice cream. Meanwhile Mouse is trying to mop up all of the mess of the spilled tea, melting ice cream, while Frog gets completely out of control and takes over entirely. Finally Mouse has had enough and yells that Frog is not listening at all! They erase the entire mess of Frog’s story and start again with just Mouse’s ideas of morning tea. Frog is forlorn, unable to help until Mouse realizes that there is room in the story for her quiet ideas and Frog’s wild ones.

Freedman shows without any didactic tone that collaboration on stories and art is possible, as long as everyone listens, communicates and compromises. In fact, the end result is a lot more lovely! Showing that wild ideas are not the best way to come up with a story, but that also quiet thoughts have value, is a wonderful show of support for quieter thinkers. At the same time, that wild moment of Frog’s makes the entire book work, showing how out of control and wonderful some ideas can be. It’s a balanced look at creativity and collaboration that is welcoming and inclusive.

As always Freedman’s art is exceptional. Once again she does washes of watercolor that are gorgeously messy and free. The spilled tea and other elements of Frog’s story embrace all of that. Mouse’s story is shown in pencil drawings that are childlike and rough while also being very neat and structured. They show each characters personality clearly. At the end, it is a lovely marriage of the two styles, filled with bright colors and yet neat as a pin.

Creative and great fun to share aloud, this picture book demonstrates how teamwork and collaboration should work. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Viking Books for Young Readers.

Review: Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle

such a little mouse

Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Stephanie Yue

A little mouse lives in a hole in a meadow under a clump of dandelions. In the spring, he heads out of his home and explores the area around him. He sees a snail, a woodpecker and buzzing bees. He also sees himself reflected in a puddle. And each day he brings home a seed that he stores away in his storeroom. In the summer, the little mouse watches beavers building a dam in the pond, visits a toad, and sees a porcupine. He brings a sprig of watercress home each day and adds that to his storeroom. In autumn, the little mouse watches geese flying, ants marching, and brings home an acorn to his storeroom which is filling up. In winter snow falls and the little mouse can’t see the grass anymore. He heads right back into his hole and stays there, well fed and warm.

This picture book explores seasons and the changes seasons bring in nature from a gentle and cheerful mouse perspective. It captures the natural rhythms by echoing them in the writing.  Little mouse leaves his hole the same way no matter what the season, by counting to three and popping out. Then he explores, discovering three things in nature to pay attention to. Some small and some large. Schertle’s tone invites young readers to take a look at the nature outside their own holes and visit it each day to see the changing seasons.

Yue’s illustrations also show nature as a place to safely visit and explore. The illustrations celebrate nature and its beauty and variety. They also pay homage to classic stories like Peter Rabbit while down in the mouse’s burrow with his homey furniture and then his baking and soup making in the winter months.

A simple story, but one that has a wonderful rhythm and poetry to it that moves it to the top of the large pile of seasonal stories. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

Review: Hermelin by Mini Grey


Hermelin: The Detective Mouse by Mini Grey

Released August 5, 2014.

Hermelin is a mouse who lives in the attic of Number 33 Offley Street.  His attic is filled with books and boxes and a typewriter that Hermelin uses to write with.  When Hermelin notices that the Offley Street Notices board is filled with people missing things, he knows just what he has to do.  So he starts working as a mouse detective and solving the mysteries of Offley Street.  He does this by noticing things and then leaving typed notes for the people to help them find their missing items.  Then when tragedy almost strikes the youngest person on Offley Street, Hermelin is the one to save the day!  Soon everyone wants to know exactly who this Hermelin person is, so they invite him to a thank you party in his honor.  He just isn’t quite what they were expecting…

A new Mini Grey book is always a treat and this one is perfectly lovely.  Hermelin is a winning character with plenty of pluck as he goes about solving mysteries.  Happily, the mysteries are just as small as Hermelin himself, making the book all the more jaunty and fun.  Grey spends some time showing Hermelin’s attic and how he lives.  The small details here add a rich warmth to the book and it is also the details that create such a vibrant world on Offley Street with the humans as well.

Done in her signature style, the illustrations are filled with details.  One can read the cereal box, the milk carton, and the titles on the books as well as giggling at the flavors of cat food on the shelf.  Hermelin himself is a lovely white mouse with inquisitive eyes and a face that shows emotions clearly.  The entire book is a pleasure to immerse yourself into and simply enjoy.

Clever and filled with adventure, the vast appeal of this detective story is no mystery at all.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Review: Lindbergh by Torben Kuhlmann


Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlman

Translated from the original German, this picture book takes a mouse-sized look at Charles Lindbergh’s flight.  A little mouse loved to spend time reading human books but when he emerged from reading he discovered that all of the other mice had left Europe for America.  He was left alone.  He tried to board a steamer ship to cross the Atlantic, but there were cats waiting and guarding the door.  Then the little mouse had a great idea, he would fly across the Atlantic.  His experiments proved dangerous as the cats and owls emerged to hunt him down.  The little mouse did not give up he kept redesigning the wings, the engine, the frame.  But would it be enough to get him across the Atlantic to freedom?

The story of this book is entirely captivating, even for those not interested in airplanes or flight.  It is both a celebration of the small overcoming the powerful and also of ingenuity overcoming adversity.  It also shows how much of a force resilience in when solving a problem.  Even better, the book itself is a history lesson about human (and mouse) flight and how it progressed from wings to full aircraft.

Kuhlman’s art is radiant.  He creates pages with no words that are panoramas of cities, of train stations, of clock towers.  Other pages are filled with mice, owls and cats from various perspectives that add drama.  Then on other pages, you can see his skill with drafting and the diagrams of various inventions.  The art here takes the book to another level, creating a world where you believe that a mouse was the first to fly across the Atlantic. 

Beautiful and memorable, this picture book celebrates flight, ingenuity and perseverance.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Where’s Mommy by Beverly Donofrio

wheres mommy

Where’s Mommy? by Beverly Donofrio, illustrated by Barbara McClintock

Released March 11, 2014.

I am so pleased to see a follow-up story to Mary and the Mouse, The Mouse and Mary!  This new book focuses on the daughters of Mary and Mouse.  Maria is a little girl who has a mouse for a best friend named Mouse Mouse.  The two of them never reveal to anyone else that they know one another because otherwise the mice would either be driven off or have to move.  The two girls live parallel lives, getting ready for bed in the same way and both calling for their mothers at the same time.  But both mothers are nowhere to be found!  The search is on by both girl and mouse to figure out where their mothers have gone.  They both look all over their homes, check with their fathers, and ask their siblings.  Nothing.  Then they notice a light on in the shed and both head directly for it.  And if you read the first book, you will know exactly who they will find in the shed. 

Donofrio has written a clever parallel story that reveals the lives of two friends.  The upstairs downstairs aspect of the book has incredible appeal as does the wee details of mouse life.  There are little touches throughout the book that make the text charming and lovely.  Her pacing is also adept and keeps the entire book moving along and yet completely appropriate for bedtime reading. 

So much charm and style comes from the illustrations.  I particularly enjoy looking closely at the world of the mice created from borrowed items from the human home.  These little touches truly create a world under the floor that any reader would love to discover or live in themselves.  The illustrations are rich with color and details, worthy of lingering over when you aren’t quite ready for lights out.

Beautifully written and lovingly illustrated, this book is a suitable companion to the first.  They both stand alone fully on their own, but I’d think that anyone finding out there was another in the series would want to read them both, probably back to back.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Schwartz & Wade.