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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Stowaways, written by Meghan Marentette and illustrated by Dean Griffiths. Pajama Press. 2013. $19.95 ages 8 and up

"The cart seemed to rattle along for hours, as the Human stopped at every recycling bin by the road. Rory began to feel hungry. He was about to dip inside his pouch for a snack, when he suddenly picked up the scent of something better. He stuck his nose out from under the cardboard. Human shoes clacked loudly on the sidewalk as they rushed..."

The Stowaways are something special...we learn that right away! They are  brilliant members of the mouse family; but, they are not just the same as any other mouse. They are rare in the world. They have striped tails that are furry. And, their ears are huge (for a mouse, that is!).  

We meet Rory at the get-go and learn that he has the future in mind:

"He knew his own life was meant for adventure, and that's where his thoughts always roamed. After all, the Stowaways had always been known as great explorers and he was sure that one day he would become a brave adventurer like his ancestors. Only one thing stood in his way - their father."

Mice are in constant danger, and Papa is concerned for the well-being of his family. After all, Grampa is no longer with them. Gran is sure that he is alive somewhere, telling the family that he is too smart to be eaten by a cat while on another adventure. Papa wishes his mother would just let go of all hope. Rory wants to know what really happened to his grandfather and his Aunty Hazel. They were together when they disappeared.

It's summer and Rory is set for adventure. He gets just what he wants, in a series of events that lead him to find his grandfather and his great aunt, and to make a number of discoveries that will surprise and delight his family and yours.
It is such great fun to see the world through the eyes of these tiny creatures. Young readers will be captivated by their ways, the dangers they face, and the methods used to get themselves out of trouble. It's especially fun to hitch rides on car bumpers, and the axles of carts...all the while keeping out of sight. Or, to find yourself in a science lab facility where the captured denizens get to have their say about what is happening to them. Dean Griffiths adds dramatic visuals that help us see their world through his expressive sketches. 

It's a great read for the family or for the classroom. There is certainly fun involved, and excitement, and even a bit of tension. What more can we ask?   Long winter nights or January afternoons at school just beg for a fitting story to share. This could be it!

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