A timid mouse must find food for her young without becoming food herself.
Priest’s (The Sidon Incident, 2010) first children’s book tells the story of a mother mouse who lives near a farm where she played with her mouse friends when she was young. Now, she’s older and has children of her own. Winter approaches as Meek Mouse sets out to gather food to survive the cold. The only food available is in the barn on the farm, but to get to it, she must travel across the barnyard without being attacked and eaten by Harriet Hawk. In the barn, she enlists the aid of Sister Cow and Brother Mule, who help her narrowly escape disaster in her travel back to the glade. Once she makes it to the fence, her friends Tabitha Toad and Prissy Rabbit also come to her aid in the battle against Harriet Hawk. Second graders should be able to read Priest’s book independently, though some of the vocabulary is above a second grade level. The format and length of the story lends itself to picture-book treatment, and the illustrations on the cover show promise. The book, however, is entirely text. All of the text is center justified, which gives the impression of one large block of copy without paragraph breaks. Young readers would fare better with fewer words per page and with more breaks in the text. Illustrations would also enhance the tale and improve readability. While the narrative speeds along and the main characters are vividly drawn, Meek Mouse finds food a little too easily. The theme of avoiding getting eaten may also be a little dark for many readers of this age.
A story with charming characters and an exciting plot that could come to life if the author edited and reformatted the text and added illustrations.