on 13 January 2008
How terribly surprised the Little family must have been when their second child turned out to be a small mouse. Apparently familiar with the axiom that "when in New York City, anything can happen," the Littles accept young Stuart into their family unquestioningly--with the exception of Snow bell the cat who is unable to overcome his instinctive dislike for the little mouse. They build him a bed from a matchbox, and supply him with all of the needs a young mouse could need. Mrs. Little even fashions him a suit, because baby clothes would obviously be unsuitable for such a sophisticated mouse. In return, Stuart helps his tall family with errant Ping-Pong balls that roll outside of their reach. E. B. White takes Stuart on a hero's quest across the American countryside, introducing the mouse and the reader to a myriad of delightful characters. Little finds himself embroiled in one adventure after another from the excitement of racing sailboats to the unseen horrors of substitute teaching. This is a story of leaving home for the first time, of growing up, and ultimately of discovering oneself. At times, doesn't everyone feel like the sole mouse in a family and a world of extremely tall people? I enjoyed the bit when he meets Harriet who is also mouse-sized and he gets all ready to take her on a canoe trip when he loses the canoe! Stuart starts getting all upset and cries and Harriet cheers him up again. Children aged 9 - 12 would enjoy this book. I would rate this book 9.5/10 because it leaves me stuck at bits and I even fell asleep at one part!
To abruptly finished. :-(
on 22 October 2001
This is a funny and touching book which can be read on many levels - aloud to a very small child, or alone by an older child. It covers themes from adventure, courage and reliability, independence, and first love, to acceptance of differences, family crisis, and the importance of education. No child's bookshelf is complete without it.
When Mrs. Fredrick C. Little gave birth to her second son, everyone was surprised when it was a mouse. Even though Stuart is only two inches tall, he has all the attributes of a human, including the ability to talk. And he finds that his small size is a help around the house. But it also gets him into some dangerous situations since people often overlook him. Whether it's going down the drain looking for a ring, sailing a boat on a pond in Central Park, or accidentally getting thrown out with the garbage, you can bet that Stuart will face any obstacle head on.
I was first read this book in first grade and loved it for the most part. Even back then, the ending bothered me. Still, there plenty of laughs at some of Stuart's adventures, and the early chapters are entertaining. Garth Williams' illustrations are absolutely darling, and add much charm to the story.
However, the second half really disappointed me when I reread it. The first half is pretty much a series of unconnected adventures. The barest hint of a plot begins to take shape in the second half, but it goes no where. Furthermore, Stuart begins to show some rather immature behavior in those last few chapters. While he had always had some arrogance, it became too much by the end. And that doesn't even touch the ending, which leaves the plot that had finally taken hold completely unresolved.
This book is really a character study rather then a story. Parts of it will entertain kids. But the second half will let them down and the ending will leave them unsatisfied. The book isn't bad, but it's too bad it doesn't live up to my memories.
It is probably fair to say that most young readers' first experience of 'Stuart Little' will be through the two films based loosely on this book. As such, they might expect a lively, funny, fast-paced plot with plenty of action and humor. However, 'Stuart Little' was first published in 1945, and styles of humor and standards of children's books have certainly altered over the years.
Stuart was created by E B White, co-author of that well-known writer's bible 'Strunk & White's Elements of Style' - so readers might rightly expect a flawlessly written tale. Perhaps it was back in 1945. However, good punctuation and grammar are all very well - but pacing and plot are basic requirements too. What you do get, by today's standards, is something flawlessly dull. The humor is wry, gentle, whimsical, and in its way quite charming, but to be perfectly honest, if it were offered to a publisher today, it would most likely be returned with a polite note of rejection.
Many in the USA view this as something of a classic, the American equivalent of 'Winnie the Pooh' - but this is wishful thinking. Whereas 'Pooh' continues to enchant countless new readers, Stuart is perhaps best sticking to his cinematic outings for the young. E B White also wrote Charlotte's web, though this has weathered the passing of time considerably better.
No doubt many older American readers who have fond childhood memories of this book will strongly disagree, but if you are planning on buying this book for a young UK reader, then you may fair better with something more contemporary. If you like tales about mice - why not check out 'Time Stops for No Mouse,' by Michael Hoeye - the first in the Hermux Tantamoq adventures
I'd never read this, but my son and I had watched the film and we decided to read the book together, after seeing this film, and Charlotte's Web / The Trumpet of the Swan.
Having read the others myself, I admit I was disappointed with Stuart Little - it has moments of brilliant invention, but it tails off (sorry, no pun intended) and takes a direction that seems to peter out and lead the reader to an inconclusive end that (certainly for a reader my son's age - almost 5) isn't happy, isn't sad, doesn't feel finished. I had hoped for a conclusion myself, based on the fact that both Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan both end beautifully.
Stuart is mouse-like, though NOT a mouse, son to Mr and Mrs Little, brother to George. Born the size of a mouse, his parents have to adapt their home to his requirements. His mini-adventures include sailing a boat on the lake, becoming a school teacher (for no good reason), driving an invisible car (what? Why does this happen?!) and eventually setting out to look for his lost bird friend, Margalo.
It's the lack of closure that made me rate this lower than I would have liked - he leaves home to look for his friend, meets a few interesting people but keeps on driving. What about his family? Will he ever find her? Isn't he meant to be a boy himself?
Personally, I had to adapt a lot of the language to my son's level - the context of a New York setting is beyond his scope (trash/garbage, quarters and dimes, pants - trousers, etc), though as an adult I found it charming and not an issue.
I must say, I enjoy the way the book was adapted for the screen - with the mouse being adopted and the jealous brother being the issue (as well as a rather evil cat in the house). The book makes this into more a series of episodes that are only connected with the entry of Margalo the bird into the book.
This for me just isn't the classic that Charlotte's Web was in my childhood, nor as lovely as The Trumpet of the Swan turned out to be when I read it recently.
There are useful quizzes and further pages of information on the author at the end of the book.
For readers, it would be suitable from about age 8 or 9, and may need some 'translation' (some Americanisms that need explaining).
on 9 April 1998
The book I read was Stuart Little by E.B.White. It is about a little mouse on a huge adventure.His bed is made of half a cigaratte box and 4 paper clips. Stuart Little gets to teach a class in the book. The main characters are Stuart , Margalo the bird , and Snowbell the cat. It takes place in present day. It is on my top ten list. I recommend it for ages 8 and up. I liked it becaus it has lots of action and excitement in it. He gets to drive a car, that has a little button you push it, it turns invisible. He is not in a mouse family. He is in a human family.
on 18 July 1997
I can't recall how old I was when I first read this beautiful book. Nine, perhaps, or maybe ten? I am 40 now, thinking back wistfully to what it was like to encounter such a moving tale as a young child. The illustrations -- so perfectly representative of the text -- are still fixed in my mind. I had a sailboat of my own, and so identifed with Stuart's Central park boating adventure. I had never connected with anything else in book form the way I connected with Stuart Little, and when I was done, I was amazed that a book could affect me the way it did. Only a child can enter so completely into Stuart's miniaturized world.
Sadly, I know I can't read this story again with anywhere near the same enjoyment precisely because it is a children's book. Great non-children's works, like the Odyssey or Anna Karenina, can of course be appreciated ever more as one grows older, but the joy one experiences as a child encountering a character like Stuart Little vanishes forever as one passes into adolesence and then adulthood, and can never be relived.
This is one of the greatest children's books ever written -- encourage your children to read it!
on 3 December 2009
This just didn't cut muster for me. Family has small boy/mouse; not-terribly-exciting adventures that happen to him, and the whole thing tails of badly at the end. Now, Charlotte's Web is a masterpiece, but for small people stories, the Borrowers has so much more depth. For good adventures because of your shape or size, try Flat Stanley. But this - of its time, I'm afraid.
on 23 August 1998
E.B. White's books shaped my childhood and continue to affect me even today. The first book I ever remember reading and re-reading is Charlotte's Web, but Stuart Little is close behind. I first read Stuart when I was 7 or 8 and I distinctly remember exactly where I was and how I felt as though it were yesterday. Any child (or adult) who has ever felt a little bit different from their peers will identify with White's characters...and draw strength from them. His books convey tremendously powerful messages in simple, touching prose: it's okay to be different, and love and friendship are more important than anything in the world. If all children learned these lessons early in life, the world would be a better place. Thanks to Mr. White for teaching them to me, over and over again!
on 11 April 1999
I read Stuart Little when I was in second grade. I can honestly say that it is one of my absolute favorite books.
Stuart is a mouse, but he's not some passive polite little creature. He is witty, intelligent beyond his years, and persistent in his goals. He has the mind of a philosopher; he is always cheerful even though it may not seem that way. He is wise but not self-righteous. Indeed, Stuart is a near-perfect role model. This book was one of the first one I ever read that really stuck in my mind; in my attempts to discover even more about Stuart and his goals, I took on his personality and set about solving my own philosophical ideas. It truly helped the development of my persona. A book that has such an effect on a person is nothing less than a true classic.