TUMTUM & NUTMEG

ADVENTURES BEYOND NUTMOUSE HALL

Charmingly old-fashioned but full of vigor, three tales about spry mouse couple Mr. and Mrs. Nutmouse offer humor and adventure. Tumtum and Nutmeg (fond spousal nicknames) live in “a big, rambling house with a ballroom, and a billiards room, and a banqueting room, and a butler’s room” nestled secretly in a hidden broom cupboard of a cottage. In the cottage live Arthur and Lucy, human children whom Nutmeg and Tumtum clandestinely care for, explaining their helpful deeds by claiming to be a (single) fairy. The Nutmouses prefer peace and quiet, but the children’s surly, musophobic Aunt Ivy strives to poison them until their wild and hilarious scheme expels her. That done, pompous General Marchmouse, a war hero given to “foolish heroics,” embroils them in two more escapades, one involving gerbils and ballerinas, the other pirates. Bearn’s neat, understated prose never missteps, while the small-scale domesticity nods to various classics including The Wind in the Willows and The Borrowers. Sweet but never saccharine—and how often do rescues involve mice on pogo sticks? (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-02703-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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MERCY WATSON TO THE RESCUE

Hilarity and hijinks abound in this tale about a voracious swine with an overweening yen for hot buttered toast. Mercy is the beloved pet pig of the doting Mr. and Mrs. Watson. When Mercy sneaks into her owner’s bed one night, her added heft causes the bed to fall partway through the ceiling. Although the besotted Watsons assume Mercy is trotting off to seek help, the only search and rescue Mercy seems to care about involves butter and hot bread. In her quest for some midnight munchies, Mercy awakens the crotchety neighbor. Wild chases and mayhem ensue before help arrives in the guise of firefighters. DiCamillo aims for over-the-top fun with her tale of porcine shenanigans, and Van Dusen’s gouache illustrations provide a comical counterpart to the text. The glossy paintings, with exaggerated caricatures and lively colors, complement DiCamillo’s tone, although the scowling, lantern-jawed visage of the crabby neighbor borders on the unpleasant. With vocabulary that may prove too challenging for a novice, DiCamillo’s tale is best suited for those ready to move up. However, the pacing and the action easily make it right for shared reading. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2270-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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