THE MOUSE AND HIS CHILD

"Be naked" our departing predecessor pinned to the bulletin board, and we have never felt so vuluerable as in anticipating the response to Russell Hoban's arresting departure from juvenile precedent. "I want to find the elephant... to be my mama," says the mouse child, remembering the toy shop, to the other windups. "and I want the seal to be my sister, and I want us all to live in the beautiful house." Mouse & Child's frustrating, harrowing, sometimes funny quest is also a flight—from Manny Rat, the ultimate underworldling who is both Lucifer and Luciano. Through trashcan and dump, past murder and robbery and war, into the obscurities of the Caws of Art (two crows on a bare stage), Muskrat's Much-in-Little ("Why times How equals What"), and the contemplation of infinity (by the turtle author of "The last Visible Dog") they pace their little circles, searching for a way to become self-winding, the child to clinging his faith in a future. At last, beyond the last visible dog (on the disintegrating label of a can) the child finds the answer—"nothing but us." Irony, satire, parody—and an implicit, unrestricted compassion (except for fools). The two windups survive shattering and reassembling, finally reform Manny Rat and establish family and fellowship in their own territory. "Be happy," the tramp blesses them in what could be a blessing for the book—and we will "be asked" and say that man and child will recognize themselves in Mouse & Child. A rich disturbing, very touching book.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1967

ISBN: 0439098262

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1967

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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