Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 by David Petersen (reviewed by Laura)

“The mice struggle to live safely and prosper among all of the world’s harsh conditions and predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed.”

When you’re little, the world can be a dangerous place. Fortunately for mice, who happen to be quite little indeed, they have the Mouse Guard on their side. The Mouse Guard are the “escorts, pathfinders, weather watchers, scouts and body guards for the mice who live among the territories”. In other words, The Mouse Guard keeps mice travelers through the territories as safe as possible and investigates when said mice go missing.

So it is that three of the best of the Mouse Guard–Lieam, Kenzie, and Saxon–are sent out to discover the fate of peasant mouse that went missing while delivering goods among the territories. What they find (in addition to a hungry snake) is treachery from within mousekind.

As more of the plot against the Mouse Guard unfolds they discover that it is a mouse claiming to be of Black Axe renown that seeks to overthrow Lockhaven (the Mouse Guard’s home) and the Mouse Guard itself. Mouse Guard Fall 1152 follows these three mice as they investigate the treachery and fight to eradicate its source, so that they can once again focus on external threats to their species from “all the creatures that eats us” [mice, that is].

At book’s end, Petersen has included maps, guides, and assorted extras in which the mouse territories mentioned in the Mouse Guard’s adventures are more fully developed. Petersen’s text and pictures are replete with details that enhance the story. For instance, in describing Barkstone he proclaims it to be the “destination for the best in glass, furniture, and other goods” while Lockhaven is the Home of the Mouse Guard. He couples these proclamations with intricate drawings that reflect each locale’s uniqueness.

Each chapter begins with some exposition, but the captions on the panels themselves are relatively sparse making it an attractive choice for reluctant readers. Peterson employs diverse panel arrangements, color, line, and perspective to create the illusion of action and to drive the story forward.

Readers who enjoy Mouse Guard Fall 1152 will look forward to Mouse Guard Winter 1152 coming out in its collected edition in Winter 2008. In the meantime, other books to suggest to those who enjoyed talking mice historical fantasy adventure aspect include: Kate Dicamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux, Robert C. O’Brien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, Robin Jarvis’ Deptford Mice series. More mice fantasy adventure can be found in Michael Hoeye’s Time Stops for No Mouse and The Sands of Time, Avi’s Poppy stories, and Geronimo Stilton’s Geronimo Stilton series. Other books with less daring do but with talking mice that I can’t seem to stop myself from mentioning because they’re so much fun include: Beverly Cleary’s Ralph Mouse chapter books and Jennifer Holm’s BabyMouse graphic novels.

As for readers who don’t necessarily require mice, but nonetheless like the adventure and the anthropomorphic animal aspects, there’s no shortage of these kind of books. Just to name a few, you might try Erin Hunter’s Warriors series (cats), Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing (bats), Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’Hoole series (owls), or Richard Adam’s Watership Down (rabbits).

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 is a story replete with intrigue, adventure, survival, and courageous mice. Mice should be able to rest easier knowing that the Mouse Guard is on duty, and fans should rest easy knowing another volume is on its way.

Another interesting book review pertaining to rodentia is in the Times, Amanda Craig’s Varmints and Vermin in Children’s Fiction where she discusses Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn and Nick Price and Barnaby Grimes: Return of the Emerald Skull by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.

Cross-posted on my blog (actually awhile ago, but I'm just getting around to posting here too).


Nymeth said...

I read this one for the challenge some time ago (and actually, I forgot to post my review here too - oops), and I enjoyed it a lot. I like how you included all those recommendations at the end :) I've never read Redwall, but when I first posted about this book a lot of people recommended it, so it's now on my wishlist.

mariel said...

I grew up with Redwall, the Deptford Mice and many other animally tales, so this really caught my attention! I bought myself a copy of this a while ago, and started flicking through but haven't read it yet. The art work is so beautiful! I'm really looking forward to it now, especially after all the fabulous reviews I've read. Thanks!

tanabata said...

I loved Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH when I was a kid, and I just finally read The Tale of Despereaux last month. This seems like a good one to try. On to the wishlist it goes, thanks.