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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hermelin: The Detective Mouse, as told to Mini Grey. Alfred A. Knopf, Random House. 2014. $20.99 ages 6 and up

"It is Thursday,
which is Trash Day
on Offley Street,
and I am
just on my way
to return
a lost notebook
I have found
(to Emily at Number33)
when I see:
Baby McMumbo has..."

It's lovely meeting the many diverse and interesting people who live on Offley Street, and right on the first double page spread of Mini Grey's newest boo! They live upstairs and downstairs; they love to read and sing; they sell sausages and have tea parties.

Hermelin is a reading, writing, and a finder of lost things mouse! He, too, lives on Offley Number 33, in fact. From the attic there he practices his literacy skills on an old typewriter. As he wanders the neighborhood and peruses the notice board, he is aghast at the number of lost things posted there...a bag, reading glasses, a diamond bracelet, a goldfish, a notebook, a teddy and even a cat named Parsley. He is keen to help.

Being an organized and literate mouse, he keeps a casebook. As each case is solved, he leaves an explanatory note concerning the loss, and the means to finding said object. He signs each note and the villagers come to know the name Hermelin. Using all of his skills, he even saves a baby! That story is picked up by the Offley Times and Hermelin becomes a bit of a hero. Now, everyone knows his name and they all want to meet him:

"Dear Hermelin,

We don't know who you are, but you have
helped everybody - and you have
saved the life of Baby McMumbo.
Please come to our
at Bosher's sausage shop
at 4pm this afternoon.
Everybody wants to meet you!
Yours gratefully,
The People of Offley Street"

To say they are surprised to meet him would be stating the obvious! Back at his attic home, Hermelin makes an equally unsavory discovery: he learns that he is a pest, and decides he must leave. Luckily, there is someone on Offley Street who shares his amazing detective skills, and she is need of an assistant!

As is her habit, Mini Grey uses detailed and informative artwork to add warmth and understanding to her characters. The world that is Offley Street is a wonderful place! Do slow down and take time to read the book titles, cat food cans, milk carton ads, etc. She uses voice balloons, messages, and humor in her clues to entice readers to really 'read' the full story of Hermelin, the detective mouse!


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