Some books have that “oomph” that excites a reader and keeps him or her smiling from the first page to the last. A House for Mouse, by author and poet Gabby Dawnay is just such a book.
The story opens “long, long ago” (in typical fairy tale), and tells the story of how a little gray mouse moves out of the tree he was born in and goes on a quest for a new home. With a bag on his back the little gray mouse house-hunts through Fairy Tale Valley, encountering all the best fairy tale houses in the process.
First he encounters a hut made of straw, but when something (in this case, a puff of wind from a wolf) blows the roof off, he decides he should probably find a house made of bricks. Next, he encounters Rapunzel’s tower — which happens to have NO door for him to enter, and a gingerbread house just begging to be eaten — but when he takes a bite, the house begins to crumble. Every delightful fairy tale with a cozy home that a young reader can think of is covered in this book as mouse hunts for the place that will be his forever home.
This is a fun picture book with a rhythm and rhyme that will leave a twinkle in the eyes of readers of all ages. Illustrator Alex Barrow’s art work is quaint and simplistic, like the illustrated fairy tales of yester-year — including an adventure map of Fairy Tale Valley that shows the route mouse takes through the forest in his quest for a new home.
Young children will thrill in this fast-paced adventure that conjures good memories of their favorite fairy tales. They get an impromptu lesson about the pros and cons of living in each type of home the mouse encounters, and they will also experience the satisfying ending in which the mouse explains what makes a house a home.
One quibble is that there APPEARS to be two typos in the text that stop the smooth cadence and flow of the rhymes in their tracks. The first appears in the stanza where the mouse has encountered the old woman who lives in a boot/shoe:
Then he peeped through a window and saw all the toys…
There were so many children and oh what a no!
It is assumed that the word in the second line should have been “noise,” but for some reason, the editors seemed to have missed this.
The second “bumpy rhyme” that disrupts the cadence and flow of the prose is when the mouse is reflecting on what type of house he wants to live in. He says,
No, I don’t want a cake, or a house made of straw…
And I’d rather not live in a tower with no door.
This attempt to match “straw” and “door” as rhyming words is not the worst tragedy in the world, and might have been more easily forgiven if Ms. Dawnay had not displayed such impeccable rhyming abilities in the remainder of the manuscript.
These two quibbles aside, this is the perfect book for any child whose family may have had to move around a lot. It may even be used to inspire nature walks or “adventures in your own back yard.”