July 08, 2013

The best-laid plans of a young mouse

By Richard Peck
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In The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail, the smallest mouse in the Royal Mews, Mouse Minor, makes life harder on himself by also being the most inquisitive and the scrappiest. It could be simply his nature or perhaps it has something to do with his tail, which, as the book’s title indicates, is curiously shaped like a question mark. Either way, the little guy is always asking something. As we soon find out though, the only questions that truly matter are: Who am I and where did I come from—questions that are as important to humans as they are to mice.

In this elegantly written companion novel to Secrets at Sea, Newbery Medal-winning author Richard Peck creates a rich world where mice behave like people. Set around Buckingham Palace, the novel takes place during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrating her 60 years on the throne. The Royal Mews where Mouse Minor lives isn’t just bustling with people, it’s also teeming with mouse activity. As the reader learns, “for every job a human holds, there is a mouse with the same job, and doing it better.”

An orphan with a big mouth, Mouse Minor soon finds himself fleeing from school in search of his parents. In the midst of the jubilee preparations, the young mouse is struck with the brilliant idea to ask the queen herself about his parentage. After all, who would know his story better than her majesty, the omniscient, all-powerful ruler of the realm? And so the mouse’s adventure of a lifetime begins.

Young readers will love the tiny intricacies of mouse life that Peck eloquently describes (like the human scissors the mouse guards use for swords) and they will get a kick out of Mouse Minor’s humorously arrogant demeanor.  An entertaining romp, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail is perfect for fans of other great mouse adventures like The Tale of Despereaux and Stuart Little.

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The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail

By Richard Peck
Dial Books for Young Readers
ISBN 9780803738386

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