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Ten Old Men and a Mouse Hardcover – March 13, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2—Ten old men have seen their synagogue's membership dwindle as families moved out of the old neighborhood. Now they keep one another's spirits up during their daily prayers. Life becomes a little cheerier when an intelligent mouse moves into the shul, bringing out the men's nurturing instincts. The birth of baby mice, however, is too much, and they sadly relocate the family to the countryside. Loneliness sets in again—until the mother mouse, now an empty nester like her friends, returns home to the synagogue. The men tell her not to worry: "You'll hear from your kids again. You know when? When they need something." Fagan, whose storytelling is usually so vibrant, has written an odd, sad little story with an unclear message. Neither the mouse nor the old men learn or grow or change from the experience. The only lesson seems to be that old age is so lonely that the adoption of a pet is cause for great celebration. The Jewish content does not contribute to the story in any significant way. The 10 men form a minyan (the quorum required for Jewish public worship) but this is never mentioned in the text, leaving readers with too many characters and not enough fleshing out. They never learn what synagogue attendance means to the men or what keeps them coming back when nobody else does. The cartoon-style ink-and-watercolor illustrations are colorful, but the pathetic nature of the characters' lives is reflected in scene after scene of unpleasantly anxious faces. A surprisingly lackluster effort.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
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“…immediately enjoyable with its familiar structure, subtle humour, and gentle pace. Rendered in warm water-colours, [the art] captures all the humour and sentimentality of the story, but adds a tiny element of slapstick with goofy expressions and bumbling gestures. In its exploration of the theme of little things eliciting big changes, Ten Old Men and a Mouse teaches a gentle lesson about compassion, friendship, and the passing stages of life… sure to make for many satisfied readers.”
—Quill & Quire
Praise for The Fortress of Kaspar Snit:
“…Fagan has a gift for the rhythm of story, and his sly humor is always unexpected and entertaining.”
— The Toronto Star
Praise for Daughter of the Great Zandini:
“Fagan proves himself a wonderful writer with a rare comic gift.”
— Publishers Weekly
“… a wonderfully whimsical and … heart-warming, story….”