Children's Book Review Schedule
A truly delightful book.
An entertaining romp providing much to savor.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The grass may be greener in the country, and the carpets softer in the city, but--as the two amiable mouse couples in Brett's rich interpretation of the timeless fable finally resolve--``There's no place like home.'' Brett's ( The Mitten ; Trouble with Trolls ) version of how they arrive at their wise conclusion serves up a sumptuous visual feast. The art on each double-page spread (alternately devoted to urban and rural settings) is brimming with droll details; exquisite patterns appear on clothing, china and rugs; and imaginative borders range from silk cord to pottery shards to dandelions. The text also conveys the culture gap between the city and the country mice with a good deal of humor. When she feels a raindrop on her head, the city-mouse wife asks, ``Is the bathtub leaking?''; and her natty husband proudly dons a new jacket (``so colorful and eye-catching''), not realizing that it will indeed catch a creature's eye--that of a large owl whose greedy clutches he barely escapes. Bound to be a standout among the season's picture book offerings. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW called this a "rich interpretation of a timeless fable. The text conveys the culture gap between the mice with a good deal of humor; the art brims with droll details." Ages 5-8. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Debra Briatico
Brett's exquisitely detailed illustrations bring this classic fable to life. In this story, two foolish couples trade their lives for something better (or so they think). The town mouse, dressed in silk and lace, finds herself battling a hungry black bird who tries to carry away her husband. The brave country mouse has to gently free his wife's tail when it gets stuck in the breadbox door. It does not take long for both couples to realize that they missed their once simple lives. Brett uses clever border illustrations to tell the story of the clumsy cat and owl who are stalking the mice throughout the book. After numerous inept attempts at catching the mice, the disaster-ridden duo find themselves ready for a vacation of their own.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Another meticulously detailed and beautifully illustrated story from Brett. In this retelling of Aesop's fable, the town and country are each represented by a mouse couple, both of whom share harrowing adventures. In the end they escape the bumbling cat and inept owl and realize that their original homes are where they belong. Brett gives an added ironic twist to the story with her owl and cat considering a switch of homes. Publishers Weekly Best Book.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A new spin on the familiar fable. A mouse couple living in a town are enchanted by the simple life of the country, and, while on a picnic, meet a pair of local mice who long for the luxury and convenience of the city. Homes are swapped, but they find that reality is different from their expectations. Both couples end up fleeing from unfamiliar, predators-a cat in town and an owl in the country-all the way home. The owl and cat collide, and in an original twist, negotiate a territorial swap of their own. Traditionally, the town resident is portrayed as a pompous snob who turns his nose up at the country dweller's simple fare, while the country mouse is a folksy bumpkin. In Brett's version, the town mice are as charming and naive as their country cousins. Furthermore, the original fable depicts country life as utterly tranquil, but the city mice find that it is anything but serene. Brett's narrative alternates the parallel mishaps of the two sets of mice with lively, smooth writing and a deft touch of humor. As with any of her books, the illustrations are rich with meticulous detail. The natural fibers of the clothes of the country mice are as realistic in texture as the fine beaded and bedecked clothing of the town mice. The text is neatly integrated into each double-page spread. Lozenges at either side portray the activities of the two predators and are bordered with natural objects such as buttons, stamps, coins, and safety pins. Because of the wealth of small details, the book is better suited for one-on-one sharing than as a group read aloud.-Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
As might be expected, there's a lot for children to enjoy in Brett's latest offering. Both text and art reach well beyond the familiar story to achieve a humorous twist. The artwork is gorgeous. Each double-page spread, crammed with fascinating, intricate decorative flourishes, contains several parts: the cleverly and appropriately bordered central illustration depicting the text, and the decorative panels, one on each side of the main picture, that elaborate on or add new bits of information to the alternating main stories about two pairs of married mice. These side panels, which don't present a sequential story in the manner of some of Brett's picture books, focus largely on the misadventures of a townwise cat and a countrywise owl, each of whom would like nothing better than mice for dinner. The pictorial high jinks take an especially comedic turn at the end when the owl and the cat decide it's their turn to change places. With animal characters so realistic they look as though they might leap from the pages (fetching clothing notwithstanding), this playful retelling is certain to become a favorite.