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A Reader of Fictions: Le Festin - Camille

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Le Festin - Camille

Bless This Mouse

Author: Lois Lowry
Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
Pages: 152
ARC Acquired from: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Hildegarde is the head mouse of the church where they all reside, 219 in total. She keeps the population down and enforces rules so that the mice are not discovered. She works hard to prevent the Great X, which results in huge losses every time it happens. Once a year too, she must prevent anyone from being harmed by a cat on the day of the feast for St. Francis. While doing all of this, Hildegarde also has to protect her position as head mouse from the obnoxious, power-hungry Lucretia.

Let me begin by saying that my favorite part of the story were the illustrations. The writing is good, as one expects from Lois Lowry, but the pictures were just so charming. I love looking at them, and they were a large part of why I requested this title from NetGalley, even though children's fiction is not my particular niche.

The story is cute and simple, teaching children some big words, like narthex ans sacristy, without feeling at all like a lesson. In fact, although the mice live in the church and worship themselves, it does not feel at all like Lois Lowry is trying to indoctrinate children. There seems to be no intention of conversion here; this is just where the story happens to be set.

The mice are definitely humanized, which is cool. The only thing I didn't like about the story was the way that that was done. I didn't mind the mice talking in their own language at all or they're ability to read or listen in on conversations. What bothered me is that they are depicted wearing clothing, which is cute, but I don't think is even accurate to the story so far as I can tell. Nor did I like that a mouse was able to converse with a human at the end. If that were so easy, then they would have done so long ago. In a fantasy, I would not mind at all (for example, the mice in The 10th Kingdom), but this seems to be set in the real world. That just seemed a bit jumbled to me, and to weaken the plot up to that point.

Despite those slight weaknesses, though, this was an exceedingly cute story. Fans of children's literature about animals should love it and I would definitely recommend it as a present to children who are reading chapter books and expanding their vocabularies. Today's song comes from the Ratatouille soundtrack, because they both have cute mice; I don't care that these mice are not remotely French. :-)

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