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Mr. Maxwell's Mouse Hardcover – August 1, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3–A clever game of cat and mouse is presented with delicious humor by this father/son team. Mr. Howard Maxwell, a dapper, pompous feline, lunches daily on baked mouse at the stuffy Paw and Claw restaurant, but today is different. Promoted to Vice Manager of Efficiency Control at Taylor, Bentwell and Nipson, he celebrates by ordering raw mouse instead. The entrée arrives "stretched out on a single slice of rye toast as if sunning itself on a sandy beach" and proceeds to engage its prospective nemesis in conversation, a wily plan to escape its fate. Mr. Maxwell falls into the trap, is tricked into cutting into his own tail, and the mouse gets away, freeing the other mice awaiting consumption and creating mayhem in the restaurant as well. Recuperating in the hospital, Mr. Maxwell receives a note that reads, in part: "I'm sure you would have taken similar measures had you found yourself in my position.… I bear you no ill will and can only imagine that you feel the same." Readers will relish the formal language as a tongue-in-cheek counterpoint to a very funny, if macabre, story. In keeping with the black humor, dark but lush illustrations, rendered in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, depict an Edwardian setting with the staid, elegant restaurant interior just begging to be thrown into chaos. White text against glossy black panels perfectly suits the mood, and atop his mustard brown toast the little white mouse glows with cleverness. A truly scrumptious treat.–Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. Mr. Maxwell--actually a fashionably dressed feline--has received a promotion at work. To celebrate, he repairs to his favorite restaurant, the Paw and Claw, for a luncheon of fresh mouse. How fresh? Well, the critter is still alive when it's delivered to the table, and, moreover, it's in the mood for conversation. Most children will recognize this for the delaying tactic it is, but Mr. Maxwell doesn't have a clue. Not, that is, until--a bit squeamish about ingesting such a lively entree--he is persuaded by the mouse to don a blindfold. Then things become, well, painfully clear. There's something a little creepy about this story and the elegant, computer-assisted pictures that accompany it. Maybe the cats look a bit too human (they have hands instead of paws), or maybe it's the idea of chatting up your lunch. Whichever, this is one of those books that incites the kind of frisson that certain children will enjoy more than adults who, like this reviewer, are as squeamish as Mr. Maxwell. Michael Cart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press; 1St Edition edition (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155337486X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553374862
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9.8 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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The illustrations are very detailed and adorable.
Pidge
If you look at the cover, that is what the rest of the pages look like.
blue iguana
If I'm going to read children's books, I want laugh out loud humor.
Linda Vanderveen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In early 20th century England, tradition, formality, and imperialism are still prized possessions of the British Empire. And so it is with Mr. Maxwell. Every day, at precisely 12:45 pm, he walks amongst the other cats to the dignified "Paw and Claw" dining establishment for his midday lunch of baked mouse. He is a somewhat stuffy cat, full of secret ambition, and both pride and power burst through his 3-piece herringbone suit. Today, he is particularly proud because of his promotion to Vice Manager of Efficiency Control, and it is partly for this reason that he decides to order a fresh mouse and to kill it himself.

The live mouse, served on a single slice of rye bread with a garnish of parsley, arrives relaxed and talkative. When the mouse sneezes due to the salt and pepper showering him, Mr. Maxwell says "Gesundheit," and the mouse thanks him. "Mr. Maxwell appreciated the compliment, but said nothing more. His mother had always advised him not to fraternize with the food."

Mr. Maxwell is up against a formidable mouse, however, who elicits his pity and admiration, even as the cat's fork holds him down and his knife is perilously close to cutting. The mouse assures him that he doesn't want to escape, but his 5-hankie prayer, his advice on which wine would go best with mouse, and his empathy for Maxwell's difficulty in going for the kill earn the cat's trust. This is the cat's eventual undoing, as the mouse tricks him, frees the other mice, and sends Maxwell to the hospital with a bloody tail.

Asch sets a Gothic tone early, with the cold green décor and the grayish-green pallor of the cats and the dark greys of the formal club. The computer-generated graphics also lend a cold, odd cast to the illustrations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carol H. Sibley on June 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Maxwell is a sophisticated, debonair Edwardian businesscat, who goes to his favorite restaurant the Paw and Claw to celebrate his promotion to Vice Manager of Efficiency Control. Instead of ordering his usual baked mouse, he orders raw mouse for his entrèe. The Paw and Claw prides itself on polite and plump mice, but the one served to Mr. Maxwell just can't keep quiet. Would Mr. Maxwell like to add a little salt? Would he like to say a prayer before eating? Would he like a fine glass of wine?

Devin Asch, son of the author, illustrates this macabre, dark comedy with artwork created in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. The glossy illustrations alternate between detailed scenes of the restaurant and close-ups of Mr. Maxwell and the mouse. The facial expressions and body language add to the tongue-and-cheek quality of the text. White text against black panels fit the sophisticated tone of the story.

Children found the illustrations to be "elegant" and "distinguished" and appreciated the details, such as the cats' clothing. While sixth graders said that the story might be scary for young children, they found it to be entertaining and funny. A ten-year-old girl laughed at the idea of an animal talking to its food and "beamed from ear to ear" as the book was read. A nine-year-old burst boy out laughing when the mouse maneuvered Mr. Maxwell's tail on to his plate. He also compared the story to "Tom and Jerry" cartoons.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Maria Beadnell on March 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a great book! How Frank and Devin Asch ever thought it up is beyond me. Although it is a cat and a mouse, the "cat" is a middle aged accountant, fussy and prim, celebrating a promotion at work with a special lunch. As his lunch stalls for time, he gets so nervous he guzzles his wine. Not what I'd consider prime kid fare. But it works.

Kids love to see an adult at the mercy of a child--which is how they see it when the mouse torments the cat into letting him go. Yet this is not a mean-spirited book. Both the cat and the mouse are treated with dignity and sympathy even though the story is funny.

The beautiful, almost black-and-white illustrations add to the gravity of this updated trickster tale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda Vanderveen on March 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book today to a 4th grade class and was thoroughly entertained, as were the children who "got" the tongue in cheek humor more than some adults who also rated this story. If I'm going to read children's books, I want laugh out loud humor. This book did not disappoint. Cleverly written and beautifully illustrated, the book's lesson is that manners and communication will solve problems. The underdog wins, but is still humble in his triumph. Entertaining morality-it's an unbeatable combination.
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Format: Hardcover
The pictures in this book are amazing, but more from an adult's perspective. The pictures are all dark and brooding with black and shades of gray being the predominant colors. If you look at the cover, that is what the rest of the pages look like. My son wasn't as interested in the illustrations as I was.

I realize that there are only seven plots in the world (give or take), but this is a copy-cat <----(ha! see what I did there?) of a book that my daughter brought home years ago called My Lucky Day. It was about a little pig that convinced carnivores to massage him and give him a bath to prepare him to eat. They collapse asleep in exhaustion after everything the pig suggests, and the pig goes on his merry way. That book was comical and you smiled at how the pig outsmarted everybody.

This book is disturbing, to say the least. The opening page shows a cat about drop a live mouse down his throat. The conversation between the cat and the mouse about the mouse's imminent demise becomes too close to reality for a bedtime story. Probably the worst part was a picture that showed the mouse being held by the fork and the knife ready to slice across his body.

I could see my son fidgeting, so I skimmed a good chunk of the writing and flipped past a lot of the pages. Usually we talk about a book when we finish, but I tried to forget about it and picked up Huggly's Pizza. <---recommend
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