The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck
I thoroughly enjoyed Peck’s first mouse characters in Secrets at Sea, so I looked forward to meeting more whiskered characters in this new book. The two books are unrelated except for Peck’s elaborate mouse society which has the same charm as The Borrowers or The Littles. In this book, we meet a little mouse who really doesn’t even have a name. He has no idea where he came from, but he is now cared for by his Aunt Marigold who is the Head Needlemouse in the Royal Mews in London. He is sent to school at the Royal Mews Mouse Academy, where he is quickly bullied by bigger mice. Finally, he ruins all of his prospects by appearing in front of a human wearing clothing. Now he has to find his own way, his destiny and his past.
Peck weaves a fine adventure in this book. The romp of mishaps and close scrapes make for fun reading as does the mystery of this little mouse’s past. Add to that the appeal of being near royalty, even speaking directly with Queen Victoria herself, and you have a book where you never know what is going to happen next.
The writing is skilled and detailed. Peck offers action enough for any book but also builds a wonderful second, shadow society with the mice too. There is just enough detail to tantalize and clearly visualize the world, but not so much that the story slows. In fact, the pacing here is superb.
Fans of Stuart Little and The Borrowers will enjoy discovering life in the Royal Mews and a little nameless mouse with a big destiny. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from ARC received from Dial.