Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Mouse House, by Rumer Godden

Staff review by Chris Saliba

A busy family of mice find a new house to live in...

Mary has been given a beautiful little doll's house as an Easter present. In fact, it's really a "mouse house" as two doll-like mice made out of flannel occupy the little house. A he-mouse that wears a suit stands on his hind legs in the sitting room while a she-mouse, wearing a lovely dress, stands in the bedroom. Their little mouse house is beautifully decorated. In the window sills stand thimble-sized pots of geraniums made out of scarlet silk.

In Mary's house, in the cellar, there's a broken flower pot that sits in a corner. A real family of mice live in the pot. The problem is there's no room in the pot for this large family of mice, especially Bonnie, one of the youngest mice. Trying to escape the cramped conditions, Bonnie bravely leaves the cellar, runs past the house cat and up the stairs to Mary's room. There she finds the mouse house. What bliss! She makes herself at home, but knocks over the he-mouse and she-mouse. When Mary finds the mouse house in such disarray after Bonnie's visit, she decides to keep the he-mouse and she-mouse, but relegate the mouse house to the cellar.

At last, the mouse family can move out of their old, cramped flower pot and into more suitable lodgings.

This is a charming, dainty little story, perfect to read out aloud to youngsters in one sitting. The contrast between the busy and disruptive little mice and the order and composure of the mouse house makes for some gently comic scenes. The descriptions of the mouse house's furniture show the connoisseur's delight in the miniature world of doll's houses: they are intricate and just-so right. The story also benefits from Adrienne Adams' wonderful illustrations.

Rumer Godden's Mouse House, first published in 1952 and now reprinted in this lovely New York Review of Books imprint, is a delight and a treat.

Mouse House, by Rumer Godden. Published by NYR Children's Collection. ISBN: 9781590179987  $29.95

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