From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 2–4—Rose Cottage is a modest abode "rife with clutter and chaos." But behind a broom-closet door, hidden by a heavy chest of drawers, lies a 36-room mansion, home to Tumtum and Nutmeg Nutmouse. The retiring animal couple takes great pleasure in helping absentminded Mr. Mildew and his motherless children, who live in the cottage, in small ways—darning socks, rewiring heaters, and patching shoes. But a visit by the Mildews' odious Aunt Ivy turns the quiet couple's life upside down after the woman spots them on the upstairs landing. A full-blown mouse attack ensues, requiring the assistance of neighboring General Marchmouse and his mouse battalion. Adventure upon adventure follows, including trouble at the local school and an encounter with pirate rats (who are hindered by liqueur-filled chocolates). Before long readers know just what to expect from Bearn's characters: a can-do attitude and bustling efficiency from Nutmeg, even-tempered consideration from Tumtum, and from the General, an inflated ego and childlike impulses. The author provides enough twists and turns to keep the excitement high and fills her story with delightful details (outside of an occasional "earwig en croute," the mice nibble on piles of tasty homemade cakes, scones, and gingerbread, all described). Rustically framed pen-and-ink drawings appear throughout, adding panache to the presentation. This British import is as satisfying as high tea, and a perfect choice for competent young readers.—Daryl Grabarek
, School Library Journal
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Evocative of classics like The Borrowers and The Wind in the Willows, this mouse tale should appeal to children who like to imagine little creatures operating behind the scenes. In a small cottage in England live Mr. and Mrs. Nutmouse (aka Tumtum and Nutmeg), who reside in a grand house inside a broom cupboard. Twisting the usual human-animal dynamic, Bearn presents the mice as faring better than the human family and trying to help the sweet-natured girl and boy. (Their mother has died and their father is an eccentric inventor.) The three old-fashioned adventures here recount the daring rescues, not-too-scary hostage dramas, and close escapes that ensue when human and animal worlds collide. Bearn draws the situations with amusing particulars, including human foibles for man, mouse, gerbil, and rat, and drums up plenty of suspense as Tumtum and Nutmeg are forced to suspend their cozy lifestyle to save their friends and themselves. Price’s black-and-white illustrations capture the Nutmouses’ goodheartedness and the humans’ dampened circumstances in a cheerful, rustic style. Grades 2-4. --Abby Nolan