Bearn makes her debut with a trio of comfortingly old-fashioned tales about a pair of kindly mice, living in a forgotten broom closet in dilapidated Rose Cottage, home to Arthur and Lucy Mildew and their father. Tumtum and Nutmeg's residence-Nutmouse Hall-is as splendid as the Mildews' home is forlorn, and the good-hearted couple secretly takes on the task of putting, and keeping, the cottage in order. Unexpected adventures ensue: in each of the stories the decidedly nonadventurous mice rescue friends and defeat enemies, always putting themselves in great danger and emerging victorious. Very British in setting, tone and supporting characters (a blustery mouse general, an elegant elderly ballet mistress and her troupe of young ballerinas, greedy pirate rats), the stories are filled with descriptions of good food, cheering fires and warm beds. Price's black-and-white line drawings have a scratchy, comic air that brings a welcome edge to the gentle storytelling. While some may find the adventures on the quiet side, the sympathetic characters, enchanting setting and quickly paced plots will hold readers' interest. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Anyone who enjoys Beatrix Potter will be enchanted by this thick, three-story book featuring two mice, Mr. and Mrs. NuthouseTumtum, a chubby, gray mouse who dresses in English tweed, and Nutmeg, a brown mouse who loves to cook. They live in Nutmouse Hall, a mansion established by Tumtum's great grandfather. The mansion is hidden away inside a forgotten broom cupboard in Rose Cottage. The cottage's human inhabitants are Mr. Lewis, an inventor, and his two children, Lucy and Arthur. Since inventing is hardly a regularly-paying job, house and humans have gotten shabby and scruffy. But Nutmeg has an idea (her ideas are seldom practical but spectacular, nonetheless). The Nutmouses come out at night, mending clothes and making home repairs, as well as leaving the children beautiful miniature cakes. Soon Lucy and Andrew conclude the two are "a fairy of sorts" named Nutmeg and form a fast, if long distance, friendship. This is the basis for Bearn's stories of the mice's adventures. In the first, "Nutmeg and Tumtum," Rose Cottage is invaded by the children's disagreeable Aunt Ivy, who is terrified of mice. The Nutmouses dispatch Aunt Ivy with the help of General Marchmouse, a rodent living nearby, and his army. The second story, "The Great Escape," involves the intrepid general plus a squeamish teacher named Miss Short, and requires the help of Tumtum, Nutmeg, and a school full of novice ballerina mice. In the third story, "The Pirate's Treasure," what begins as a simple overnight campout turns into a frightening sea (stream) voyage, a sinking ship, a deserted island, and pirate ratsall thanks to grandiose General Marchmouse. This time, Lucy and Arthur rescue the mice! TheNutmouses' adventures are wonderfully written. Illustrations are plentiful and absolutely charming. This would be an excellent read-aloud book for any teacher, parent, or caregiver. After thatwho knows? Perhaps young readers will be ready to imagine more adventures for Nutmeg and Tumtum. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Rose Cottage is a modest abode "rife with clutter and chaos." But behind a broom-closet door, hidden by a heavy chest of drawers, lies a 36-room mansion, home to Tumtum and Nutmeg Nutmouse. The retiring animal couple takes great pleasure in helping absentminded Mr. Mildew and his motherless children, who live in the cottage, in small ways-darning socks, rewiring heaters, and patching shoes. But a visit by the Mildews' odious Aunt Ivy turns the quiet couple's life upside down after the woman spots them on the upstairs landing. A full-blown mouse attack ensues, requiring the assistance of neighboring General Marchmouse and his mouse battalion. Adventure upon adventure follows, including trouble at the local school and an encounter with pirate rats (who are hindered by liqueur-filled chocolates). Before long readers know just what to expect from Bearn's characters: a can-do attitude and bustling efficiency from Nutmeg, even-tempered consideration from Tumtum, and from the General, an inflated ego and childlike impulses. The author provides enough twists and turns to keep the excitement high and fills her story with delightful details (outside of an occasional "earwig en croute," the mice nibble on piles of tasty homemade cakes, scones, and gingerbread, all described). Rustically framed pen-and-ink drawings appear throughout, adding panache to the presentation. This British import is as satisfying as high tea, and a perfect choice for competent young readers.-Daryl Grabarek , School Library Journal
Charmingly old-fashioned but full of vigor, three tales about spry mouse couple Mr. and Mrs. Nutmouse offer humor and adventure. Tumtum and Nutmeg (fond spousal nicknames) live in "a big, rambling house with a ballroom, and a billiards room, and a banqueting room, and a butler's room" nestled secretly in a hidden broom cupboard of a cottage. In the cottage live Arthur and Lucy, human children whom Nutmeg and Tumtum clandestinely care for, explaining their helpful deeds by claiming to be a (single) fairy. The Nutmouses prefer peace and quiet, but the children's surly, musophobic Aunt Ivy strives to poison them until their wild and hilarious scheme expels her. That done, pompous General Marchmouse, a war hero given to "foolish heroics," embroils them in two more escapades, one involving gerbils and ballerinas, the other pirates. Bearn's neat, understated prose never missteps, while the small-scale domesticity nods to various classics including The Wind in the Willows and The Borrowers. Sweet but never saccharine-and how often do rescues involve mice on pogo sticks? (Fantasy. 6-9)