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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bless This Mouse, written by Lois Lowry and illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2011. $18.99 ages 5 and up

"Father Murphy would be donning his vestments and preparing the sacraments. Oops! There he was now, entering. She darted under the edge of the draperies and hid. She could see, peeking under the edge of the thick velvet (which was slightly frayed - she should nibble those borders and clean up that edge a bit), his black shoes on the dark blue carpet."

I love that two of my favorite authors have written books about mice this year. First, Cynthia Voigt with Young Fredle (Knopf, 2011) and now Lois Lowry with this lovely story of a group of church mice, led and loved by Hildegarde. She is the ultimate caregiver; she looks out for each of her charges, offers advice, plans and arranges for care and safety.

The Feast of St. Francis is upon them. There are serious concerns with the visits of so many pets, especially CATS. In case the blessing must be moved inside due to weather, she wants her charges to find safety well and away from any visitors. There is another issue; if parishioners happen to set eyes upon any mice, the Great X will be called again.

Hildegarde has a plan in place when she sees Father Murphy make the call to the exterminator:

""Exodus! Pass it on!" Vivian squeaked to her adolescent children, and shooed them off to be messengers.
"Exodus! Pass it on!" Jeremiah called through a furnace duct. In seven different locations, other mice heard it and repeated it so that news went from mouse to mouse to mouse until each one, all but the smallest ones, knew, and knew what it meant. They all prepared to flee. They were going Outdoors."

When the feast of St. Francis moves inside because of inclement weather, she is equally prepared. She cautions her charges to be vigilant and careful, and to seek refuge in the safest and hardest to reach places in the church.

I love Hildegarde. She has everyone's well-being at the center of her soul, and provides leadership and a calm and assured guidance. While the author gives us the words that bring this lively household to life, Eric Rohmann does the same with his charming, detailed illustrations. They are a great team!

Lois Lowry offers her readers a quiet, warm look at Hildegarde's extended family without ever feeling intrusive. I came away from the reading feeling as I did when I read other such wonderful tales as Charlotte's Web, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and even Redwall. Thank you for a new classic read for our children, Ms. Lowry.

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