A debut picture book, the first installment of a series, features an adventurous mouse.
In Cash’s morality tale, Squeaky is a skilled scavenger who refuses to share his bounty with a stinky fellow mouse who comes begging at his door. That evening, when Squeaky forages, food is scarce, but he is drawn to his favorite smell—cheese. Most readers will likely anticipate what Squeaky does not: the tantalizing tidbit is the bait for a trap. In deference to young readers, activating the device produces a net, not a neck-breaking snap! Squeaky is rescued by the stinky mouse, whom he feels obligated to invite to his home for a meal. First the guest—his name is now revealed to be Whiskers—bathes and amazingly loses his stench. When asked, Whiskers reveals that his mother taught him to help when he could, because someday he might need aid, too. The illustrations by Smith—the author’s English teacher brother—are as uncomplicated and straightforward as the text, with the drab mouse world enlivened by the bright colors of the kitchen of the “People.” Each drawing, uniformly centered at the top of the page with text beneath, sports a bright blue border. Rather than boring, the homogeny and simplicity of the text and art should be comforting to the target audience (ages 4 to 7). While the story’s point is of the “do unto others” variety, a worthy anti-discriminatory theme also emerges.
A sweet animal tale effectively conveys a basic but important message.