In this illustrated children’s book, a mouse explores the world with the help of an unseen Voice.
Henry lives with the Wilson family, although they don’t know he’s there. The mouse comes out at night to scavenge for food, but his favorite time of day is the Wilsons’ dinnertime, when the family of four exchanges stories about what they’ve been doing during the day. These stories make Henry curious about the outside world; he’s not sure if he’s ready to venture into the unknown, but that’s “the only way he could tell his own story.” At first, he doesn’t go far, but sleeps in some nearby autumn leaves. The next day, he has doubts about heading out, but then a “Voice” speaks to him: “I am here to help you explore this new world around you.” Reassured, Henry keeps going farther afield; some experiences are fun, such as visiting a playground, and others are scary, as when he escapes a buzzard. Whenever he starts missing his home, the Voice guides him back. Although the mouse feels sad that he can’t actually tell his own story at the dinner table, he can still remember his adventures. One night, the Voice reveals the truth: “I am the Spirit of the Almighty God who truly loves and cares about your welfare….[B]e the best you can be knowing you are safe and loved.” Hurley (Close Encounters with My Lord, 2010, etc.) gets off to a slow start in her tale of exploration; Chapter 5, titled “Henry’s Adventure Begins,” doesn’t even get off the front porch, and it’s not until Chapter 9—also titled “Henry’s Adventure Begins”—that he leaves the front yard. The overall theme of divine love and safety is an appealing one. At times, though, the Voice solves Henry’s problems for him—for example, by telling him how to return home and get back inside the house—which undercuts the encouraging message about discovering new things for oneself. Warno’s (Timmy and Tammy: The Sea Turtles Adventures, 2019, etc.) pen-and-watercolor illustrations capture Henry’s inquisitiveness and depict nature well. However, the human figures have a stiff, clumsy appearance.
A comforting, if sometimes-contradictory, book about exploring possibilities.