An anthropomorphic mouse family hosts a family reunion in this picture book translated from Chinese.
Melvin, a young mouse, is excited for the upcoming Mice Festival, an annual family reunion. His family will be hosting it this year, and the preparations are nonstop. While author Qin details the activities, illustrator Xu delivers illustrations filled to their edges with copious homey details, somewhat reminiscent of Tasha Tudor’s style. Full-page illustrations, double-page spreads, spot illustrations, and one impressive three-page foldout give the story a visual animation. If only the same could be said for the narrative. Its undemanding arc relates the arrival of the relatives and their joy and delight in one another, with a small blip of tension when Uncle Dom is tardy; but all ends well—and, if possible, even cozier. Gender stereotypes are strictly adhered to: The aunties and Melvin’s mother prepare all the food; the boys tussle; the girls play dress-up. The theme of unselfish, loving family togetherness with nary a quibble is delivered with a sentimental perseverance that may not resonate with Western readers. An author’s note at the end reads peculiarly, essentially an explanatory synopsis of the story reiterating the value of family and love. An illustrator’s note following is also eccentric, conveying a fragmented homage to imagination, bravery, and, yes, love.
A persistently rose-colored narrative about family togetherness is buoyed by homey, cozy, copiously detailed illustrations. (Picture book. 3-7)