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The Mouse and His Child Hardcover – September 1, 2001

48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like so many exceptional children's books, Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child clearly wasn't intended only for kid consumption. It certainly qualifies as a fantastic story for children: the characters are entertaining and memorable, the images powerful, the pacing tight, and the message unique and lasting. But this sweet, melancholy fable about a wind-up pair of tin mice--a dancing father and son joined at the hands--explores so many different themes of hope, perseverance, transformation, and the nature of existence (while still managing to be quite funny at times) that it's the sort of book that demands to be kept around for a lifetime of rereading.

The father and son's redemptive quest to become "self-winding" takes them through all sorts of trials, from the toy store to the dump to the swamp and back again, and all along the way the pair runs afoul of Hoban's well-realized and often menacing menagerie of characters, including the slave-driver Manny Rat, the distracted thinker Muskrat, and Crow and Mrs. Crow and their Caws of Art Experimental Theatre Group. (These last provide some of the best scenes in the book, getting a surprising amount of philosophical meat out of a play called The Last Visible Dog: "What doesn't it mean! There's no end to it--it just goes on and on until it means anything and everything, depending on who you are and what your last visible dog is.")

If you're only familiar with Russell Hoban from his Frances books (Bread and Jam for Frances), this gripping, sometimes disturbing, occasionally even violent novel might come as something of a surprise. But if you've read any of Hoban's later work, like Pilgermann or The Moment Under the Moment, then you know what this sophisticated and extraordinarily graceful writer is capable of, and why The Mouse and His Child deserves praise as one of the more profound children's works ever written. (Ages 9 to adult) --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

Since its publication in 1967, book lovers have lauded Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child. Now 2001 Caldecott Medalist David Small's haunting charcoal-and-ink illustrations energize and elevate this moving tale of two toy mice that come to life.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 970L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439098262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439098267
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Russell Hoban has been cranking out some of the best literature for all age groups over the last 30 years, and yet during that time he has failed to acquire any recognition here in the states. Most of his books are continuously out of print despite their critical acclaim. The very first of these was The Mouse and his Child, and it lays the ground work for a lot of his other books. His masterpiece, Riddley Walker, is in many ways a creative rehash of many of the themes he presents here, some 15 years earlier. But Hoban should also be acknowledged here for being one of only a handful of authors who really expects something from his readers, and this is especially rare in children literature. Although it is easy to assume the Mouse and his Child is not really a childrens' story at all, this is only due to our low expectations. Hoban manages to address questions loaded with symbolism and philosophical implications. There is far too much going on in this book to list it all. As noted in other reviews, it is in places very dark and depressing, but also funny and deeply rewarding. Probably one of the best books for children written in this half of the century and criminally out of print (but what by Hoban is not except for the Francis books?) Also, find the movie if you can, as it actually holds true to the book marvelously.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
For this literature lover, The Mouse and Hiis Child is the best children's book and one of the best novels I have ever read.
I first read The Mouse and His Child with my 4 year old son. We devoured it in one weekend, read it again one month later and yet again six months later. The book gets better every time. The story is action-packed with an almost endless array of fantastic characters, including what may be the most compelling villain in all of western literature (for me, only Roger Chillingsworth is comparable). The book is hilarious, frightening, and deeply affirming of the power of perseverance, love, and hope. (Sorry that the reviewers on this page who found the book too depressing weren't able to glean this, although it undeniably has very dark moments.)
The ultimate triumph of the mouse father and child is to me so touching, so representative of our hopes for love and security through the struggle of daily life, that I find myself choking up or crying whenever I read the book's finale to my son. This book is probably not for all 4-year olds, but my son, who loves fully imagined, lengthy books, loved it, and he often pretends to be Manny Rat or asks me to walk with him the way the mouse father and child do. I'm happy to oblige, because the relationship between the father and son as they struggle through hardship, the child matures, and the father ages, is poignant in a way that few family romances in literature can compete with.
Not bad for a book about wind-up toys and forest animals.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By C. Moon on September 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When I first heard that Mouse and his Child was coming back into print I was happy but not elated. I already own a few copies I tend to loan to those who need to read slightly warped children literature, and I was also skeptical about the new illustrations. Although Mouse and his Child marked the last joint project between Russell and Lillian Hoban, the illustration matched the text perfectly, and one is stuck asking 'if it already works, why fix it?' With that, I put the book out of my mind and didn't think of it again until I happened upon it at a local book store. Given a chance to peruse through this book I was immediately convinced about the quality of this reissue. The new illustrations are as perfect as Lillian's (though with their own particular bent, eschewing both the comedic and dark aspects of the story) while the book is in all other respects put together beautifully. For those who have been dealing with beat-up paperback copies, your long years of wait are over. The cover cannot be truly appreciated from the small pic on Amazon's page (no slight to them, but you simply need to pick up the book and examine it to see how wonderful it is.) Once you remove the dust jacket, Small's beautiful sketch is found to take the WHOLE of the cover, wrapping around from back to front, while the inside cover shows a series of sketches depicting the constant rotations of the 'mouse and child' toy. I imagine that taste may very in regards to Small's drawings, but they are tasteful and do not depart from the spirit of the story. Its a beautifully crafted book.
As to the story itself, I refered to this as an American classic, and it truly is, though perhaps a classic never appreciated in its place of origin.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By kmaugeri@pilot.njin.net on November 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
My 9 year old daughter found this book at a used book sale and we bought this treasure for 50 cents. We read it together and never have I so thoroughly enjoyed reading to any of my children. She scrunched close to me at the violent parts, laughed out loud with me at the funny parts and sobbed with me at the tender, sad parts. I do not think I would have read this book to a 9 year old if I had known what it was like ahead of time...but oh I am happy to have shared this wonderful adventure with my daughter. We loved it! We want to read it again and again. We could hardly breathe sometimes and we gasped out loud. We have oversheltered our children too long. Instead we should hold on tightly to each other and jump in. At the end of the day, we will have found pure strength and joy in each other. This book is a jewel. The language is very difficult but still we moved from page to page. Tonight we finally finished it...for now.
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