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Tom Mouse
     

Tom Mouse

by Ursula K. Le Guin, Julie Downing (Illustrator)
 

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When a hobo cat tells Tom Mouse tales of travel, he boards a train headed for Chicago — and an adventure in a world that's big and scary and exciting and beautiful. From a much-lauded and best-selling author, Tom Mouse is a tale of a mouse, a train, and a woman with a pocketful of surprises.

Overview

When a hobo cat tells Tom Mouse tales of travel, he boards a train headed for Chicago — and an adventure in a world that's big and scary and exciting and beautiful. From a much-lauded and best-selling author, Tom Mouse is a tale of a mouse, a train, and a woman with a pocketful of surprises.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews

This celebration of the open road and the kindness of strangers comes as particularly salubrious at a time when the prevailing mood is to batten down the hatches. And the soft colors and somewhat misty look of the art are in keeping with the mood: daring yet protected

Horn Book

While Downing’s illustrations have an old-fashioned, dowdy feel, she reverses stereotypical images with her thoroughly modern casting: the old woman is black while the porter is white, and Downing follows Le Guin’s lead by dressing this already un-conventional businesswoman in casual, comfortable clothing rather than a staid suit. Told in four brief chapters, this tale of comradeship between two otherwise lonely globetrotters has an inviting freshness in its quiet telling.”—

Booklist

A bit longer than most picture-book texts, this simply written story is told in four short chapters. The quiet dignity of the telling shows respect for its audience. The warm colors and softly shaded forms in Downing’s artwork create a series of appealing illustrations reflecting the story’s essential charm. This is one mouse tale without silliness or sentimentality

School Library Journal

A young mouse with an adventurous heart discovers the pleasures and challenges of travel, and the solace of companionship, when he hops aboard a cross-country train for a journey into the unknown.”—

Bulletin, Center for Children's Books

The story has some charm, the theme is age-appropriate, and the chapter breaks will make useful for sequential reading aloud or beginning readers. . . . Downing makes interesting use of mouse-level perspective in her huge and looming shapes. The reassuring primary palette keeps light instead of scary, and the generally cheerful demeanor of the main characters will reduce viewer anxiety about Tom’s fate. This gentle adventure may just suit an adult seeking a warm and fuzzy little readaloud.

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

The creators of A Ride on the Red Mare's Back here take readers on another diverting ride. Tempted by the travel tales of a hobo rat who rides the rails on boxcars, Tom Mouse leaves his home in a hole in the wall of a station diner and sneaks aboard a Chicago-bound train. Though Tom fully expects that any human passenger who spies him will shriek, he has the good fortune to end up in a roomette occupied by Ms. Powers, a kind woman not at all squeamish or averse to sharing her small space and her snacks of cookies and carrots with a mouse. Le Guin's smooth, chatty narrative will endear both characters to readers as it relays the cheerful woman's one-sided conversation along with her new pal's unspoken thoughts. And kids will warm to the story's conclusion, which hints at a lasting friendship between the two. Downing's softly focused, appealing art at times recalls the work of Jim LaMarche in its use of imaginative perspectives and close-up images of the friends: the mouse scurries through human feet as he boards the train, gazing out on Ms. Powers's legs through the vents in her closet door, and views the passing world through the cabin's windowpane. Given its relatively lengthy text, this charmer makes a fitting read-aloud for the picture book set or an ideal beginning reader.

Publishers Weekly
The creators of A Ride on the Red Mare's Back here take readers on another diverting ride. Tempted by the travel tales of a hobo rat who rides the rails on boxcars, Tom Mouse leaves his home in a hole in the wall of a station diner and sneaks aboard a Chicago-bound train. Though Tom fully expects that any human passenger who spies him will shriek, he has the good fortune to end up in a roomette occupied by Ms. Powers, a kind woman not at all squeamish or averse to sharing her small space and her snacks of cookies and carrots with a mouse. Le Guin's smooth, chatty narrative will endear both characters to readers as it relays the cheerful woman's one-sided conversation along with her new pal's unspoken thoughts. And kids will warm to the story's conclusion, which hints at a lasting friendship between the two. Downing's softly focused, appealing art at times recalls the work of Jim LaMarche in its use of imaginative perspectives and close-up images of the friends: the mouse scurries through human feet as he boards the train, gazing out on Ms. Powers's legs through the vents in her closet door, and views the passing world through the cabin's windowpane. Given its relatively lengthy text, this charmer makes a fitting read-aloud for the picture book set or an ideal beginning reader. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Tom Mouse lived in a cozy nest in the diner of a train station, but he craved more adventure. When an old hobo rat told him about the ease of jumping on a boxcar, Tom kissed his family good-bye and jumped on the next train. It was not a boxcar, however, and Tom found himself in Roomette Nine with a quiet old woman. He helped himself to the food she had thoughtfully brought in a paper bag. When he thought she was sleeping, he sat by the window and watched the scenery in the moonlight. After awhile, his delight became a dance. Ms. Powers was not sleeping. She was enjoying the dance, and the next morning she invited Tom to share more of her food and to make himself comfortable in her coat pocket. He went home with Ms. Powers. She traveled frequently and she always took him along. In return for her kindness, he danced for her every night. The realistic, colorful pictures tempt the reader to believe that this tale could have actually happened. 2002, Roaring Book Press, $14.95. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-A young mouse with an adventurous heart discovers the pleasures and challenges of travel, and the solace of companionship, when he hops aboard a cross-country train for a journey into the unknown. He hides away in a sleeping car where a kind woman with a twinkle in her eye shares her food, her pocket, and her enjoyment of the journey. Tom's worries about being discovered by the conductor and how he will eat, along with his awe at the wide world, are portrayed simply and effectively in four brief, picture-book chapters. The bright, clear illustrations are well suited to the text, giving readers a close-up look from Tom's perspective and mirroring the warmth of the story. Though now and then the protagonist looks a bit long-tailed for a mouse, he has real character, as does his white-haired, brown-skinned travel companion. And the fact that Ms. Powers travels with some regularity makes their meeting mutually fortuitous. Young readers will pick up on the fact that Tom is shown gazing out at the night from a lighted train compartment although the text specifically mentions that the woman has turned out the light. However, an earlier illustration captures the magic way a train passes through the countryside at night, under stars that seem to follow along, and the sense that the world is big and full of wonders.-Kathie Meizner, Montgomery County Public Libraries, Chevy Chase, MD Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Adventure tales aren't often as quiet as this item, which takes a low-key approach. Thirsting to see what lies over the horizon, little Tom Mouse, of the house mouse variety, hops a train headed for points west. He manages to secret himself in a sleeper, which he has all to himself for the first night, bedazzled by the countryside rolling along beside him and by the stars that appear to be traveling with him. But the next day, a human enters the sleeping cabin-an inconvenience, since Tom is relegated to hiding in the closet, but on the other hand she does leave a paper bag full of goodies for him to snack upon. Tom dares leave the sanctuary of the closet only when the woman goes to dinner and late at night, when he thinks she is asleep. Then, once more, he heads to the window to marvel at the passing world, even to break out in a jig at the sheer glory of it all. Turns out the woman was not so ignorant of Tom's existence-and the next day she confronts him. His fears are soon allayed when she reveals herself to be a friend of wild creatures-it is suggested that she is perhaps a wildlife biologist-and she invites him to join her on her travels: to Chicago, San Francisco, and Tokyo. This celebration of the open road and the kindness of strangers comes as particularly salubrious at a time when the prevailing mood is to batten down the hatches. And the soft colors and somewhat misty look of the art are in keeping with the mood: daring yet protected. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761315995
Publisher:
Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
03/28/2002
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.14(w) x 10.34(h) x 0.39(d)
Lexile:
520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Ursula K. LeGuin is the winner of the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor award, five Hugo and five Nebula awards, among many others. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Portland, Oregon
Date of Birth:
October 21, 1929
Place of Birth:
Berkeley, California
Education:
B.A., Radcliffe College; M.A., Columbia University, 1952
Website:
http://www.ursulakleguin.com

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