A Tuesday Ten: Mouse Tales!

So today is another animal list.  This time we’re on mice.  To be honest, I’m not sure whether mice or cats tend to lead in children’s speculative fiction, but there are a heck of a lot of stories out there.  Here’s my ten!

1.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien (Aladdin, c1971)

We’re going to kick off this mousy list with a Newbery winner!  This title about a mouse widow desperate to save her family from certain death  is one of the few books you’ll find in children’s speculative fiction that features an adult female protagonist (and a mother at that)!  It’s also the only book of the list that blends science fiction with fantasy on the list.   Did you know there were two more books added to this as a series?  Written by  Jane Leslie Conly,  Racso and the Rats of NIMH (Harpercollins, c1986) and R-T, Margaret and the Rats of NIMH (Harpercollins, c1990) chronicle more adventures of the rats, but never had as much popularity or acclaim as the original.  For those of you who did not grow up in the 80s (and therefore may not be aware) there’s a movie based on the book called  The Secret of NIMH from 1982.  It was actually my first exposure to this mouse story!

2.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timonthy Basil Ering (Candlewick, c2003)

And here’s a second Newbery winner of the mousy kind!  Despereaux is a tiny mouse living in a castle who falls head over heels for the human princess that lives there.  The mouse society he is a part of just doesn’t know what to do with such an un-mouslike mouse.  Kate DiCamillo weaves a fantastic story around the fate of this one small character that is still charming readers regularly.  This book was also made into a movie by the same title in 2008.

3.

Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler, illustrations by Vivienne To (Margaret K. McElderry Books,  Expected publication May 2014)

The first book in a new series that combines swashbuckling, politics and heroic characters with mice and rats living in Brooklyn a New York City mouse adventure of epic proportions with a likable young hero and a colorful cast of characters–I’ve only begun this one, but it looks like fun.

4.

Redwall by Brian Jacques (Red Fox, c1986)

If you enjoy small woodland creatures in anthropomorphic swashbuckling roles, there are few series more appropriate than Redwall.  While many of the woodland creatures star as the protagonists in different volumes,  possibly the most well loved heroes are the young mice: Martin the Warrior, Mattimeo, Mariel (to name but a few). This is some of epic medieval style adventure at it’s best.  If you like the first book, there are plenty more to enjoy in the entire Redwall series. (There are 22 in all!)

5.

The Rescuers by Margery Sharp, illustrated by Garth Williams (Little, Brown & Co., c1959)

This is one where probably most will know about the Disney movie from 1977 and may not have known there was a book that inspired the movie.   Mice in this story work towards helping others in harm’s way through a massive society.  These are daring mice keen on adventure and now must rescue a Norweigan poet from The Black Castle.  Full of good humor and charm, it’s gone out of print.  The other thing readers might not know is that  The Rescuers is a series, with at least seven books chronicling the adventures of Miss Bianca and Bernard.

6.

Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Eric Rohmann (Houghton Mifflin, 2011)

A quirky tale about a colony of church mice that fear the possibility of another  “Great X” occuring.  In order to prevent the possibility of another extermination, the mice will have to create a daring plan within the church to keep the mice safe.  Cute and charming in lots of ways, this story isn’t heavy on the action, but is a sweet little story nonetheless.

7.

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Dial, 2013)

The smallest mouse in the royal mews is so small he doesn’t even have a name.  But when this curious youngster with the notable tale decides to explore outside of his home, he’ll discover a world of mice, humans and his own special destiny!  A nice little British mouse tale with a twist at the end.

8.

Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by his Good Friend Mouse Amos by Robert Lawson (Little, Brown & Co., c1939)

A great example of historical fantasy, this story is written by Amos Mouse about his encounters with Benjamin Franklin.  A great way to introduce  people and events of history.  This is one of Robert Lawson’s classics that has remained in print and can still be found on the library shelves for historical fiction readers who like a bit of the fanciful in their stories.

9.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary (HarperTrophy, c1965)

Book 1 in the Ralph S. Mouse trilogy  by well-known and well-loved author, Beverly Cleary.  This delightful trilogy of books for young readers tells about Ralph, a mouse who has big dreams . . . dreams of riding a motorcycle.  Those particular dreams, however will land him in hot water before long if he’s not careful!  The Mouse and the Motorcycle inspired  live-action movie that was aired on ABC’s Weekend Specials (and starred a very young Fred Savage).

10.

Geronimo Stilton: The Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye by Geronimo Stilton (Scholastic, c2000)

Geronimo Stilton is the pseudonym of the Italian writer Elisabetta Dami.  The  Geronimo series is up to over 54 volumes with at least  five or six spin-off series.  These fun and funny mouse adventures pit our heroes against every kind of crazy adventure in their animal ruled, anthropomorphic world.  After 10 years, these books are still going strong and rarely on the shelves for long.  Given their popularity, this is one mouse that had to be on the list, if only for sheer persistence!

There’s my ten!  What’s your favorite mouse book? Comments welcome!

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on February 25, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I loved the Redwall books when I was a kid, but the ones I’d really recommend are Robin Jarvis’s Deptford Mice trilogy. These were my first introduction to anything with a hint of the darkness of horror, and which showed that sometimes romance really doesn’t work out. For an eleven-year-old suburban kid these were dramatically new approaches that broadened my tastes, but they’d have been worth reading just for the sheer thrill of the books and their battle of underdog (or undermice) good vs terrible magical evil.

  2. I read and re-read both Mrs. Frisby and the Miss Bianca book that we had (I think it was Miss Bianca and the Salt Mines). If you’re willing to spin off into graphic novel territory, my whole family loves the Mouseguard series by David Peterson.

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