The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

( 1 )

Overview

A gorgeously illustrated and poetically written classic, set in a 1930s-era city at Christmastime

Rediscover the tale of the simple country mouse, magically retold by Helen Ward. Beguiled by his cousin’s amazing tales, the country mouse visits the electric city. Unfortunately the town mouse forgot to mention that the city has a lot of noise, tall buildings . . . and dangerous dogs! Helen Ward’s 1930s New York at Christmas is at once gorgeous and frighteningly busy. In the end ...

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Overview

A gorgeously illustrated and poetically written classic, set in a 1930s-era city at Christmastime

Rediscover the tale of the simple country mouse, magically retold by Helen Ward. Beguiled by his cousin’s amazing tales, the country mouse visits the electric city. Unfortunately the town mouse forgot to mention that the city has a lot of noise, tall buildings . . . and dangerous dogs! Helen Ward’s 1930s New York at Christmas is at once gorgeous and frighteningly busy. In the end the reader understands both why the town mouse loves his exciting life and why the country mouse is content with his peaceful home.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Life-size flora and fauna grace this retelling from Ward (Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop’s Fables), who opens with seasonal images of spring blooms, autumn apples, and winter snowfall of the woodland where the country mouse makes his home. After the mouse’s cousin, “a fine, sleek city mouse,” arrives, the newcomer praises cosmopolitan living. “In the city, we dine on rich, exotic foods in sumptuous surroundings,” boasts the charcoal-gray urban rodent; meanwhile, their creekside setting, pictured in radiant straw gold and grassy green, is plenty sumptuous itself. When winter comes, the country cousin journeys to a glittering metropolis circa 1930, “where the cold sky met great towers of smooth stone and glass.” The town mouse lives in an opulent high-rise, where the mice dart through an overrich Christmas banquet, pursued by a pug in a party hat: “As they ran, the country mouse remembered with fondness his own simple but quiet meals.” Full-bleed pages showcase Ward’s blend of luscious, naturalist illustrations and flat backdrops. First published in the U.K., this updated fable pictures opposing ways of life, with farm pleasures coming out ahead. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
A splendid retelling of Aesop’s familiar fable. . . .Sumptuous watercolor illustrations enhance the rural/urban juxtaposition with luminous close-ups of country mouse immersed in the seasonal flora and fauna of the English countryside and overwhelmed by the "noise and bustle and hum" of a 1930s-era city at Christmas. The richly detailed illustrations invite and reward close inspection. A visual stunner.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Brief, beautifully descriptive text placed amid charming watercolor illustrations. . . Ward’s lush pastoral illustrations bring out the deep contrasts between rural and city life. As the city cousin describes the "noise and bustle and hum" of his home, the accompanying painting shows a huge, shining harvest moon resting on a field of wheat sheaves and branches of plump blueberries and golden apples. City scenes are busy with tall, sprawling buildings and their leaded windows; armloads of Christmas gifts and ornaments; overladen sweet tables. This retelling, closely based on the original short fable, is a worthy addition to any collection.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Ward retells the fable in rich, poetic language. The country mouse "...knew the aching hunger of a long, cold winter and the smell of the sun-warmed earth of spring." When the mouse's city cousin arrives for a visit, full of complaints, he boasts of his life in the city. Feeling less content as winter approaches, the country mouse goes to the city. At first he finds it amazing. When he goes to sleep in his cousin's luxurious apartment, however, he is rudely turned out of the box he is sleeping in and has to hide. The decorations seem to show that it is Christmas. Wonderful smells attract him to a laden table, but there is a dangerous dog there. As he flees, the country mouse recalls the safe quiet happiness of the country and is glad to get home. This large horizontal volume is filled with double-page watercolors depicting the locales in naturalistic detail. There are plants in a field but a stalking fox behind a fence. Shoppers ride an elevator with a security door. A table holds a delicious-looking chocolate cake but also an angry dog. Snow-covered twigs with red berries fill the end pages. The elegant paper jacket shows the mice on thorny branches with delicate violet blooms on gold; the cover is red cloth with simple white letters. This makes a very attractive addition to the many versions of the fable. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—In brief, beautifully descriptive text placed amid charming watercolor illustrations, Ward retells Aesop's familiar tale of the field mouse whose city-dwelling cousin tries to convince him that the sights, sounds, and food in the city make it a far more wondrous place to live than the plain, sometimes scary, countryside. With the advent of colder weather, the country mouse-now "less certain of his contentedness"-travels to his cousin's fancy city apartment but soon realizes that the true dangers there overshadow the luxurious environment and rich food. As luck would have it, his hiding place (from the dog) is an apple basket in the very same truck that brought him to the city, and he is returned to his beloved countryside to sleep away the winter in his own soft nest. Ward's lush pastoral illustrations bring out the deep contrasts between rural and city life. As the city cousin describes the "noise and bustle and hum" of his home, the accompanying painting shows a huge, shining harvest moon resting on a field of wheat sheaves and branches of plump blueberries and golden apples. City scenes are busy with tall, sprawling buildings and their leaded windows; armloads of Christmas gifts and ornaments; overladen sweet tables. This retelling, closely based on the original short fable, is a worthy addition to any collection.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
In this splendid retelling of Aesop's familiar fable, a country mouse leaves his bucolic existence to sample the glitz and glam of the city, only to discover there's absolutely no place like home. Country mouse "live[s] a quiet life among the seasons." He is perfectly content until his "fine, sleek" town cousin comes to visit, criticizes the mud and dangerous wildlife (a sleeping fawn, in the illustration), and boasts about the city's "rich, exotic foods." Urging his cousin to see the wonders of the city for himself, town mouse departs, leaving country mouse discontent and with "a longing for new sights and sounds." Country mouse hitches a ride to the city, where he discovers electric lights and towers of glass and stone. His cousin's apartment is indeed luxurious and the food delicious, but country mouse soon yearns for the simple pleasures of home. The elegant, simple text contrasts the natural beauty of the countryside with the artificiality of the city. Sumptuous watercolor illustrations enhance the rural/urban juxtaposition with luminous close-ups of country mouse immersed in the seasonal flora and fauna of the English countryside and overwhelmed by the "noise and bustle and hum" of a 1930s-era city at Christmas. The richly detailed illustrations invite and reward close inspection. A visual stunner. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763660987
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 636,699
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Ward won the first Walker Prize for Children’s Illustration and twice won the British National Art Library Award. She has also been short-listed for the 2003 Kate Greenaway Medal. She lives in Gloucestershire, England.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    Beautiful artwork!

    I got this book for my granddaughter. It is, by far, the most beautiful book she owns.

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