From the Publisher
“…immediately enjoyable with its familiar structure, subtle humour, and gentle pace. Rendered in warm water-colours, [the art] captures all the humour and sentimentality of the story, but adds a tiny element of slapstick with goofy expressions and bumbling gestures. In its exploration of the theme of little things eliciting big changes, Ten Old Men and a Mouse teaches a gentle lesson about compassion, friendship, and the passing stages of life… sure to make for many satisfied readers.”
—Quill & Quire
Praise for The Fortress of Kaspar Snit:
“…Fagan has a gift for the rhythm of story, and his sly humor is always unexpected and entertaining.”
— The Toronto Star
Praise for Daughter of the Great Zandini:
“Fagan proves himself a wonderful writer with a rare comic gift.”
— Publishers Weekly
“… a wonderfully whimsical and … heart-warming, story….”
Like the perfect brisket, this book offers a deeply satisfying balance of sweet and sour that you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy. Membership at the venerable and once-bustling synagogue has dwindled down to 10 old men: Max, Nat, Bud, Al, Mose, Herm, Lem, Tov, Gabe, and the always-late Saul. So when this geriatric crew discovers a starving mouse hiding among the prayer books, they quickly abandon plans to trap it. After all, as Saul wryly notes, "He's the first new member we've had in thirty-five years." The story that unfolds endearingly affirms a distinctly Jewish worldview ("There isn't a cat or dog as smart as our mouse," says Herm proudly), while at the same time empathetically acknowledges that old age is not a day at the beach. "You'll hear from your kids again," Saul tells the mouse, after its true gender is revealed by the arrival of a large brood, which disbands some months later. "You know when? When they need something." Clement's (Just Stay Put) editorial-style pen-and-inks with watercolor wash clearly spring from great affection; he knits the 10 old men into a tight, funny ensemble worthy of a Neil Simon comedy, embracing the story's slapstick while eschewing caricature. Fagan's (The Market Wedding) dialogue-driven text is great fun to read out loud—full of kvetching, kibitzing and kvelling, yet written with a broad audience in mind. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Keri Collins
Every day ten men go to the synagogue to pray, morning and evening. Although their synagogue is not large or fancy, and many people have moved away from the old neighborhood, the ten old men keep the synagogue going day in and day out. Each day is the same, until the day they hear a noise in the cupboard. A rustle. A squeak. A mouse! After a failed attempt at trapping the mouse, the men adopt it as the synagogue's newest member in thirty-five years. They decorate the cupboard, supply the mouse with food and water, and even give the tiny rodent a bed, a table, and a rug. In fact, they turn the cupboard into such a nice home, they are surprised one day to find the cupboard doors closed and the mouse uncharacteristically antisocial. Eventually, the chorus of squeaks the old men hear reveals their mouse is a female who likes the cupboard so much she has decided to raise her family there. Soon the synagogue is overrun with mice. What will the ten men do? This unconventional and humorous story about the bonds of friendshipand how friends help us navigate the ups and downs of lifehas the feel of a classic folk tale but with a modern twist. Gary Clement's illustrations keep the story moving by giving each old man a distinct look and playing up the mouse's personality. As an added bonus, the two-sided dust jacket reverses into a poster.
School Library Journal
Ten old men have seen their synagogue's membership dwindle as families moved out of the old neighborhood. Now they keep one another's spirits up during their daily prayers. Life becomes a little cheerier when an intelligent mouse moves into the shul, bringing out the men's nurturing instincts. The birth of baby mice, however, is too much, and they sadly relocate the family to the countryside. Loneliness sets in again—until the mother mouse, now an empty nester like her friends, returns home to the synagogue. The men tell her not to worry: "You'll hear from your kids again. You know when? When they need something." Fagan, whose storytelling is usually so vibrant, has written an odd, sad little story with an unclear message. Neither the mouse nor the old men learn or grow or change from the experience. The only lesson seems to be that old age is so lonely that the adoption of a pet is cause for great celebration. The Jewish content does not contribute to the story in any significant way. The 10 men form a minyan (the quorum required for Jewish public worship) but this is never mentioned in the text, leaving readers with too many characters and not enough fleshing out. They never learn what synagogue attendance means to the men or what keeps them coming back when nobody else does. The cartoon-style ink-and-watercolor illustrations are colorful, but the pathetic nature of the characters' lives is reflected in scene after scene of unpleasantly anxious faces. A surprisingly lackluster effort.
Heidi EstrinCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.