From an English author adept at fantasy (Carnegie Medal for The Ghost of Thomas Kempe), a fine collection of well-shaped stories about the animals living in the Dixons' home. Of all the multitude of creatures there, only Willie the dog is a presence acknowledged by the humans. Gullible, he is forever in scrapes brought on by his inability to think ahead or remember what happened last time, and as a result is prone to leaving hilarious mayhem in his wake. The mice live a perilous existence spiced by such derring-do as running around the toilet seat (forbidden as too dangerous) and narrow escapes from humans, later recounted to one another with gusto and exaggeration. Nat, the pill bug, lives like others of his kind in a drain; unlike them, he asks ""why?"" and makes a friendship with a spider. It's too bad that all Lively's small explorers are male; the females, be they mouse or human, are chiefly engaged in futile attempts to bring the males into line. But her grasp of the possibilities of various points of view sharpens the reader's perception of the everyday world; and her gentle satire informs us about human foibles as it entertains.