Mouse and his friends build a house and then defend it from…a ghost?
Two stories, “Mouse House” and “Mouse Mystery,” in one book introduce readers to Mouse and his buddies, who are more than happy to help him both build his house and figure out how to trap a mysterious intruder. Simple vocabulary that’s easy for new readers to decode is the order of the day, but this does not make the book ideal for them. The narrative moves back and forth from lightly rhymed verse (clunky in places) to unrhymed text, making it hard to read aloud. “ ‘Turn out your lights / so the ghost cannot see,’ / said Mole hopefully.” Moreover, just when readers get a rhythm going, the text returns to unrhymed prose. Providing chapter headings every four pages (and every 30-50 words) also breaks up the satisfying story. The art, a winning combination of pencil, watercolor and collage, is the star here. Each spread is filled with humor and detail: Animals wear clothes, the goat is always hungry, and a wise owl watches from a hole in the tree. When Mouse finally catches the intruder, readers will celebrate new friendship with all the animals. The thick, oversized paper, in combination with the brightly colored cartoon illustrations, gives this a warm, throwback feel.
Despite textual trip-ups, a satisfying story overall. (Picture book. 4-8)