Bless this Mouse is a short, fun, anthropomorphic tale featuring a clan of 219 mice (not including Mouse Mistress Hildegarde) and their daily challenges as church mice in St. Batholomew's Church. St. Bartholomew is very apropos name, considering that the annual blessing of the animals for the Feast of St. Francis may very well be indoors this year because of rain - and the mice know what that means - cats! and lots of them! As if this weren't enough trouble, disobeying Hildegarde's orders, several mouselings have been spotted by the ladies' auxiliary and Father Murphy plans to telephone The Great X! It's Hildegarde's duty to keep her clan safe and hidden.
As the mice prepare for the worst, one of the youngsters seeks advice from Ignatius, an ally of Hildegarde's whom she respects for his knowledge,
"They told me to ask you what exodus means."Does Hildegarde rise to the challenge of protecting her colony, despite constant undermining by her rival, Lucretia? Yes, she does; and everyone learns a little something in the process - even Father Murphy.
Harvey folded his paws politely and looked up with big eyes.
"Departure," Ignatius replied. "It's Greek."
Actually, he could forgive a tail yank if someone was genuinely seeking knowledge. And he remembered Greek fondly, from the university library. He had nibbled quite a bit of Greek. "An ancient language."
"Greek?" Harvey giggled, and said it several times. "Greek? Greek?" It was so close to squeak that it amused him. Ignatius gave him a meaningful dark look and he subsided.
"It means 'the departure of large numbers.'"
"In this case, mice."
Ignatius sighed. He knew that once a young one started with why there would be many whys to follow. "Because we're in danger. We have to escape."
Harvey squealed nervously, "Outdoors?"
Like The Birthday Ball, Bless this Mouse is a short chapter book, but there is little else they have in common. Rather than wittiness, Bless this Mouse relies on simplicity; the simplicity of a simple story well told. This is what adults might call a "gentle read," a tale in which the reader can rely on well-developed characters, a dash of adventure, and a happy ending.
Although they appear to be delightful sketches, I will refrain from commenting on the artwork for two reasons - I read the book on my Nook which is not the ideal platform for viewing artwork (no, I don't have a Nook Color) and more importantly, several of the illustrations had a note of "artwork not final."
Advance Reader Copy supplied by Netgalley.
Due out in March 2011
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