Mouse miniatures create a cinematic “Cinderella” story with a soft twist.
“Ball! Palace! Prince!” cry the cruel stepsister rats, setting up the main event of this murine twist on the familiar tale. Sootypaws, a frankly mousy-looking mouse, longs for love from a lonely fireside, orphaned and relegated to domestic chores. Felt anthropomorphic mouse miniatures interact in spreads, with lifelike shadows, varying depths of focus, and bird’s-eye views creating cinematic movement for the story. Rudy’s detailed sets and varied perspectives may well resonate with young readers accustomed to movie versions of “Cinderella.” A theme of kindness and mutual aid surrounds the transformation of Sootypaws from frumpy char-mouse to a ball-ready rodent. Sootypaws’s rose-petal gown stands out from the more muted and uniform costumes of the mouse gentry as she twirls into the prince’s arms for a night of dancing. The standard lost-slipper moment leads to a twist ending that rejects marriage but still contains heteronormative implications. Decadent double-page spreads, such as the scene of the prince’s ball, offer opportunities for readers to play an informal seek-and-find game: identifying the classical instruments in the band, counting the number of wigs, or exploring the intricate design of the staircase could occupy a whole sitting. Matter-of-fact text and a plain typeface allow readers to focus on the elaborate images.
For fans of fairy tales and vibrant visuals. (Picture book. 4-7)