Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Question Mark Tail

So, what is it about mice and people who write for kids?  Stuart Little, The Tale of Despereaux, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Mousehunter, Whose Mouse Are You? - my brain is freezing right now but I KNOW that there are dozens, nay, scores of books with mice as main characters.  (Please comment with titles below so I can groan in recognition!)

Richard Peck - you remember him, right?  Newbery Award winning author of A Year Down Yonder, A Long Way From Chicago,  the Blossom Culp mysteries, and suspense stories of great renown - yeah, that guy!  Well, with the publication of Secrets at Sea, Richard Peck got his feet wet in the world of "mouse literature".  That book?  Quite enjoyable.

His most recent mouse book, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail, raises mouse literature to new levels.  Set in the underground world of the mice of the Royal Mews during the reign of Queen Victoria, Peck tells the story of Mouse Minor.  Mouse Minor has no family.  His "aunt" takes care of him, sews his school uniform and teaches him how to behave.  Small for his age - and a "nephew" to boot - Mouse Minor has to defend himself from bigger and more established students.  He runs away and finds a whole new world on the grounds of, and inside, Buckingham Palace.

This is historical fiction mouse literature at its best.  Of course, off the top of my head, I don't have any other historical mouse literature in mind .....Oh wait, Ben and Me by Robert Lawson.  Well, Peck's book may occur on the other side of the Pond but it gives Franklin's mouse friend a run for his money.

GoodReads has a list of mouse books for young readers in grades 3 through 6 - just in case you think I exaggerate the prevalence of scurry, furry rodents in children's books.

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