Greater love hath no mouse….
Simard and Pratt tell in an uncompromisingly honest style the tale of a mouse whose best friend, Gustave, is eaten by a cat, apparently sacrificing himself to save the narrator and allow him to escape. Once the terrified mouse is sure Gustave is gone, he wanders alone through a bleak urban landscape, dreading going home to his mother without his dearest friend. Finally, he returns to the mousehole. Mother is making dinner. She has already guessed what happened and has a plan to make her son feel better. She pulls out a life-size stuffed mouse, identical to Gustave in every feature, which she just happens to have on hand. The mouse declares, “You will never be Gustave,” but he decides quickly that the lifelike toy will be an acceptable substitute, and in his imagination, it can come alive. Strikingly illustrated in a painterly style reminiscent of Whistler’s nightscapes, with sparse, hand-printed text, the book is clearly aiming to make an impression. Textured acrylic washes and figures heavily outlined in black give the book a gloomy, threatening air. For all the beauty of its artwork, the tone of this book is surprisingly somber for a children’s book, and readers may find it hard to discern a positive message.
Share this book with children who have a high level of tolerance for ambiguity—and be ready to discuss. (Picture book. 4-6)