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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Mouse Books

We have mice. Hopefully just one, but it’s a brash one, scuttling around the kitchen during breakfast this morning.

This happens in the fall at our house. We’ve certainly tried to find where they might be getting in, but they say a mouse only needs a dime-sized hole, and we obviously haven’t found it. Caught two a couple of weeks ago.

They’re small. Cute, even. Which is good, because otherwise I’d have the heebie-jeebies. And I (mostly) don’t. It’s just a To-Do on the list—and I’m not the one who To-Do’s it even.

But it has me thinking…. We might not want them in our houses, but mice are beloved characters in kids’ books. Certainly at our house they have been. Ralph S. MouseThe Mouse and the Motorcycle…all of Kevin Henke’s wonderful mice picture books…The Brambly Hedge CollectionMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHA Mouse Called WolfStuart LittleThe Tale of Despereaux…Brian Jacques’ Redwall Series…Avi’s Poppy and Ragweed books…Bless This Mouse…. And these are just some of the books in which mice play the starring role. Plenty more have mousy “minor characters.” (Think Templeton in Charlotte’s Web, or Mouse in the Bear books by Bonnie Becker.)

I’ve written many Red Reading Boots columns about our favorite mice books. (I just looked back—many!) I look at the shelves in my office, which have been stocked with all of the family favorites I’m allowed to take from the #1 Son’s and Darling Daughter’s shelves, and goodness! It would appear we’ve raised them on mice! #1 Son had imaginary mice friends who accompanied through the trials and tribulations of early childhood—and no wonder! Did we read anything else?!

What is it about mice that are so appealing for storytelling? Is it that they’re the presumed underdog because of their size? Yet in story after story, they prove themselves to be intelligent, resourceful, and courageous—their size even advantageous. Certainly this is a theme worthy of putting before children.

Is it because they are so wee and dear (fictionally!) and lend themselves to illustrations? Some of my most favorite illustrations have mice in them (see the above list for starters!) Their little clothes! 

Or is it because we like to imagine parallel universes in which the smallest animals create homes and villages and worlds from our bits and bobs? Hidden away in the hedgerows, the rafters, beneath the floorboards…all these stories running along beside use.

It might be this last thing for me. When I’m on walks I often see tiny hollows, small pockets, and inviting dime sized (and larger) holes in the walls and hedges and trees. When I see these, I’m immediately furnishing a home for tiny ones inside—scraps artfully repurposed, cozy built-ins, winding passages….

I’m fully aware that other rodents could star in such scenes, but it’s always a bitty mouse with large ears and eyes and flickering whiskers that comes to mind. Perhaps it’s because of what I’ve read over the years? Certainly could be. There’s something about mice that fire our imaginations, I think.

I’m on the hunt for new mouse books. What do you have to recommend?






7 Responses to Mouse Books

  1. Carrie November 3, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole! One of my daughter’s favorites.

    • Melanie Heuiser Hill November 3, 2017 at 9:39 am #

      OH YES!!! Love A Nest for Celeste–thanks for the reminder!

  2. Nancy Peterson November 3, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    The Dark at the Top of the Stairs by Sam McBratney and Ivan Bates, and The School Mouse by Dick King-Smith (on of my favorite read-alouds for primary grade children!)

  3. David LaRochelle November 3, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

    These are not new books by any means, but two of my favorite “mouse” series when I was growing up were “The Cricket in Times Square” and its sequels, with Chester Mouse, and “Miss Bianca” and others in this series by Margery Sharp (later made into “The Rescuers” by Disney). Mice do make lovely characters in books, but I haven’t always been as fond of them when I’ve found them inside my house! And for a wonderful mouse read-aloud picture book: “Mouse Mess” by Linnea Riley.

    • Melanie Heuiser Hill November 3, 2017 at 3:20 pm #

      Cricket in Times Square is one of our favorites–the audio, too. And I loved The (Disney) Rescuers as a little girls. I’m not positive I’ve read it though. Mouse Mess is new entirely–adding it to the list!

  4. Jon Roux November 3, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    A newer mouse book that I’ve enjoyed is Word of Mouse by james Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. it makes me think of Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH but set in suburbia.

    • Melanie Heuiser Hill November 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

      Oh my–that sounds almost to good to be true, Jon! Will check it out–thanks for the recommendation!

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