A kindhearted orphan girl and a clever mouse join forces to expose an illegal baby-selling operation in a Philadelphia orphanage.
Since her mother’s death in a fire that disfigured her own hand and arm, 11-year-old Caro McKay’s lived at Cherry Street Home for Children, where she’s known as a “responsible, sweet-tempered child” and a favorite of enigmatic headmistress Mrs. George. No one realizes there’s a thriving mouse colony at Cherry Street Home until Mrs. George’s cat, Gallico, catches Mary Mouse covertly trying to steal commemorative stamps the mice use as artwork. When Caro rescues Mary, they bond. Alerted to the presence of mice, Mrs. George threatens to call an exterminator, triggering the colony’s mass exodus. Left behind, Mary’s joined by Andrew, an adventurous mouse who can read. Inspired by their literary hero, Stuart Little, Mary and Andrew discover Mrs. George runs a baby-selling racket, while Caro’s become suspicious about a missing baby. The staccato pace alternates between Mary and Andrew’s daring exploits and Caro’s harrowing efforts to thwart Mrs. George. Period detail about orphanages in 1949 adds historical depth, while atmospheric black-and-white illustrations highlight dramatic scenes. Along with Gallico, surely an homage to the author of The Abandoned, there are other children’s-literature cameos readers will enjoy picking out.
An original, rousing mouse adventure in the tradition of Stuart Little. (Fantasy. 8-12)