Clarice the Brave

Clarice the Brave

by Lisa McMann
Clarice the Brave

Clarice the Brave

by Lisa McMann


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Notes From Your Bookseller

This gorgeously written tale about a small mouse with a big heart and her perilous journey to reunite with her brother is an adventure for the ages. From the author of The Unwanteds series, Clarice the Brave is a story of family, friendship, and hope that young readers are sure to enjoy.

The New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds brings us an epic animal adventure story perfect for fans of Pax and A Wolf Called Wander.

Clarice is a young ship mouse grieving the loss of her mother when a mutiny forces her onto a small, leaky boat with a dangerous cat. Worse, she is separated from her younger brother, Charles Sebastian, who is trapped aboard the great ship.

Clarice and Charles Sebastian were taught to always be careful—but they will need to grow bold if they are to survive . . . and find one another again.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593323380
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 02/07/2023
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 344,249
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

About The Author
Lisa McMann is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of dozens of books, including the Unwanteds series, the Forgotten Five series, and the Wake trilogy. She is married to fellow writer Matt McMann, and they have two adult children—their son is artist Kilian McMann, and their daughter is actor Kennedy McMann. Lisa spends most of her time in Arizona, California, and Vancouver BC, and loves to cook, read, and watch reality TV. Visit Lisa at or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lisa_mcmann.

Read an Excerpt


I’d heard that word before.

Sailors whispered it on the mess deck, where my brother and I lived in the corner of a wooden crate thec olor of a November cornfield. They muttered it like an oath late at night after an extra dram of grog. They sent it, quiet, like a prayer, through the ripe silence between slaps of the whip or thuds to the ribs from a thick boot.

I’d heard it, but I hadn’t grasped what it meant. Or what it would mean for us.

It was just a word.

Our crate was filled with burlap sacks of coffee beans slowly going stale in the locked pantry off the galley. The padlock didn’t affect us—we could squeeze under the door easily enough. But it kept out the sailors and the cats. Only Heyu, the pasty-­skinned kitchen boy who wore the key on a chain around his neck, came and went several times a day, fetching things for the cook. Nevertheless, we two were safe most of the time, and we had food available. After watching everyone around us die, that’s really all we wanted.

My brother, Charles Sebastian, and I were the only ones left of our family. Our siblings had been taken by disease or eaten by Special Lady, who was one of three horrid ship cats. She spent most of her time in the galley near the cook, awaiting a lurch that might cause a scrap of food to fall into her gaping maw. She was the captain’s pet: a dreadful, thick orange thing, always trying to sneak into the pantry behind the kitchen boy. She ate our sister Olivia.

Olivia’s death had come as a jolt, for she’d been the strongest and fastest of the litter. Her failure to outrun Special Lady weighed heavily on me. If she couldn’t survive . . . how could I? Was it only a matter of time? The thought was paralyzing. “How have you made it this long, Mother?” I’d asked soon after, back when she was still with us.

“Some of it was luck, little bean,” Mother had admitted. Then she’d examined me carefully, as if able to see the clouds of worry that pressed behind my eyes. “And understanding that hiding can be a better choice than fleeing.” After she’d said it, she’d glanced worriedly across the pantry at my brother. Charles Sebastian had an especially strong instinct to run, which led to him sometimes losing his head. The rest of us were constantly trying to teach him how to control his impulses. Was she concerned that he’d be next?

“What if we fail?” I said, feeling faint. “What if we run when we should hide?”

Her warm breath bathed my ear. “Clarice,” she said, “when I was young, about to set off alone to see the world, I had a lot of doubts. Leaving my family was hard, but the call of adventure wouldn’t stop just because I was scared. On the night I left to stow away on this ship, my father told me something that helped me worry less during the darkest times.”

“What was it?” I could hardly get the words out fast enough.

Her sad whiskers, mourning Olivia, turned slightly upward as she remembered. “He said, ‘It only takes one mouse to believe in you. And that one mouse is me.’ ”

I felt a rush of warmth. “And what did you think of that?”

“It made me feel strong, and confident in my decisions. I repeated those words whenever I doubted myself or felt alone in the world.” She stared off into the dark pantry, reminiscing. “I can still hear my father’s voice . . .” Then she looked at me. “And I want you to know that I believe in you as much as my father believed in me.”

My mother’s sincerity in that moment had made my heart swell. I already knew that I made good decisions most of the time, but her words buoyed my confidence in a way I hadn’t realized I needed.

Moments later she’d called Charles Sebastian to go with her on a hunt for fresh water. Perhaps she’d wanted a quiet moment to encourage him in the same way.

We’d never know the answer, though, for on that trip Mother was doused by a rogue wave and swept overboard. Gone in an instant. Charles Sebastian returned alone, shaken to the core. The pantry felt twice its size without her presence to fill it.

My mother loved the sea, but I despised it. Her death gave me even more reason to hate it. Water is deceptive. It seems soft, but it isn’t. A wave’s unexpected slap is enough to break a poor mouse’s neck. Charles Sebastian had seen it happen. After that, he refused to leave the pantry, and I returned to my doubts. If our own seafaring-­adventurer mother couldn’t survive, what chance did we have?

Without her we stayed in our crate, more scared than ever. We sat huddled together, slept curled together, and ate what we could find together. Only I ventured out for water in the dead of night, collecting drips for my brother in the curve of a broken wooden spoon that I gripped between my teeth. There was nothing else that could get us to leave our safe crate now.

Nothing but that word.

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