A 21st-century update to Aesop’s enduring fable finds cousins City Mouse and Country Mouse spending time in each other’s locale to realize that they both prefer life at home.
Flowing acrylic-based gouache illustrations give this retelling a modern twist. Alternating between Mousetropolis and the countryside, the tale opens with City Mouse, who is annoyed with the incessant loud noise of the city. Receiving a letter from his cousin Country Mouse, City Mouse seizes upon the rural vacation opportunity. Although he lets loose at the farmhouse jamboree, City Mouse finds it hard to adjust to the eerily “quiet” surroundings. The food is different, the natural sounds and silences are creepy, and City Mouse can’t shake the feeling of being watched. They agree to a new plan. Country Mouse and City Mouse jump a train to the city. There’s dancing in the subways, ample food, and phalanxes of device-attached mice doing “important things”—and back home goes Country Mouse. Christie utilizes appealingly mouse-based language—“quicker than a mouse can nibble through a wheel of provolone”—to tell his story, and he carefully acknowledges the dangers of country life as well as those of the city. The illustrations effectively depict the dislocated mice’s subjective impressions of each setting; the tilt of an eyebrow communicates emotion.
A welcome addition to any folk-tale collection, this clever retelling and its warm, embracing illustrations demonstrate the enduring appeal of this classic tale. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)